Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Amended application fees

I imagine that most of my professional readers will be aware by now of the Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017 No.1314) which came into effect in mid-January.

Article 2 has increased application fees generally by 20% (rounded up to whole pounds) as the government had previously announced.

Article 5(2) of these amendment regulations has removed the fee exemption previously contained in Article 5 of the 2012 fee regs which had relieved applicants of any liability to pay an application fee where they were applying for planning permission due either to the removal of a permitted development right by an Article 4 Direction or to its removal by a condition attached to a planning permission.

The fee increase in respect of applications for prior approval under the GPDO is dealt with separately by Article 5(3) of the new regulations (as it was by the previous version of these regulations when prior approval applications were introduced). The recent amendments to these fees generally do no more than increase the fees by 20%, but the fee for prior approval under Part 4 (temporary buildings and uses) is the same [now £96] whether or not any building operations are involved (under Class E, in connection with temporary film-making). Unless I had previously mis-read the original fees regulations, this is in contrast to the earlier rule that a fee of £172 was payable for a combined application for both operational development and building operations under Part 4, Class E.

The £96 fee is now also payable for applications under Part 7 (non-domestic extensions, alterations etc), and Part 14 (renewable energy) in addition (as before) to those made under Part 6 (agricultural and forestry) and Part 11 (heritage and demolition).

Having waded through these amendment regulations, as well as various other amendment regulations on other subjects recently, I am bound to say that it would make life far easier for everyone who has to interpret, apply and operate under this detailed subordinate legislation if, instead of simply amending the earlier statutory instrument by reference, the government were to replace the previous version entirely. Whilst this might involve reprinting large wodges of text which had not in fact been amended, it would make the exercise of understanding the regulations as a whole a great deal easier for all concerned.



  1. Martin, funny story for you (not so funny for my client). I recently submitted an application to Harrow which was a re-submission of an application which had been refused the month before. The original application was submitted prior to the fee rise and on submitting the re-submission of the refused scheme, Harrow told me that my client was not entitled to a free application, they must instead pay the difference between the previous fee and the new fee! This amounted to £39. Despite quoting the fee regs at their validation team i was met with the answer that the head of service said this is the approach which should be taken and therefore they were taking it. I pointed out that the fee regulations do not state that where you are re-submitting an application within a year of a refusal you get a credit note for the amount you paid and must then pay any difference if the fee has increased, they simply state you are exempt from a fee altogether. This fell on deaf ears. I had to escalate it to the chief exec and in the end they agreed with my interpretation. This delayed the application being validated for so long that we simply had to pay the £39 in the end to get the application progressing

  2. I am entirely with my anonymous correspondent on this.

    Unfortunately, piss-poor LPAs get away with all sorts of nonsense (not just in relation to fees) simply because the developers cannot afford the time and extra expense of fighting them over it.

    Until MHCLG is prepared to do something about poor practice among LPAs, I fear that this sort of thing will just go on and on.

    [Funny, incidentally, that the same LPA names keep coming up in complaints I hear about poor performance and bad practice!]

  3. I agree wholeheartedly with your last paragraph and one can also only hope that the principle of codification (as opposed to consolidation) will eventually become accepted and standard practice. As digital documentation becomes increasingly the norm, the practice becomes much easier to achieve.

    The arguments for and against codification of law as opposed to consolidation were, as I guess you will be aware, recently considered in some detail in the Law Commission's report "Form and Accessibility of the Law Applicable in Wales".

  4. I consider it to be outrageous that those people who have had their PD rights removed not only have to make a planning application for works others can carry out immediately, but now also have to pay for the privilege.

  5. I agree with JNH. It was a well-established principle for a long time that if a permitted development right is removed, compensation should be paid by the LPA if planning permission is then refused for a development that would previously have been PD. (In the case of removal of the PD right by amendment of the GPDO, there used to be a time limit of a year after the amendment of the statutory right) and, similarly, if as a result of the removal of PD rights a landowner was put the trouble of making a planning permission for a development that would previously have been PD, no fee was payable for that planning application.

    Now, even where the PD right is removed by an Article 4 Direction, the right to compensation has been removed if a year’s notice of the Direction has been given (presumably on the basis that the owner can use his PD rights within the period of notice before losing them).

    None of these changes is fair or reasonable, in my view, and it is slightly odd that it should be the present government (and its coalition predecessor) that has cut down the rights of property owners in this way.

  6. I would be very interested to hear who the LPA's are who's names keep coming up in complaints about poor performance and bad practice