8 May 2015
Policy area: Planning
The next government should consider following in the footsteps of Historic England and introduce a charging system for enhanced planning services, according to the British Property Federation (BPF).
Historic England has consulted on charging for a series of enhanced services which will allow developers to pay for options such as extended pre-application advice and fast-track listing within a guaranteed timeframe, whilst still offering its existing advice for free.
The charges will help improve performance by delivering a better-resourced system for all, and will encourage developers to bring historic buildings back into use, whilst also safeguarding the future of these assets.
The BPF has suggested that a similar structure be considered by the next government as part of the solution to tackling the chronic lack of resources afflicting local planning departments.
It its response to the Historic England consultation, the BPF recommended that there should be a regular review of the free services, to ensure that those who are unable to pay do not receive a poor, reduced or slower service.
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: "The planning system plays a significant role in unlocking development in the UK, and all too often local authorities’ hands are tied by the fact that they are terribly under-resourced. Historic buildings similarly have an important part to play in renewing our towns and cities, and these enhanced services will allow developers to work with Historic England to ensure that they can be protected and brought back into use much more easily.
“We would like the next government to be open to the possibility of extending a similar system to all local authorities, which will allow planning applications to be dealt with more quickly and efficiently and ultimately speed up the delivery of real estate in the UK.”