The cost of Planning in Nottingham

As we return to work in 2011 and hope that we can encourage investors and dvelopers into Nottingham a new regime has been imposed on the Planning system. In effect if you have a major scheme you will be required to pay for the (compulsory) pre-application advice.

Nottingham Planners - some way from their finest hour

The new system applies to:

New build and conversion schemes for 10 or more homes.

Other developments with a floor area of 1,000 square metres (10,000 sq ft) or more.

Outline inquiries for residential developments on sites of 0.5 hectares (1.23 acres) or more.

Outline inquiries for non-residential development on sites of one hectare (2.47 acres) or more.

Planning officials will charge £1,200 for a meeting followed by a written response. The charge is £700 for a written response.

Subsequent meetings or written response will be charged at £400.

I have heard two views. One of my clients has viewed it very positively in other parts of the UK. Another has suggested that they think twice before committing to the charges.

I think my concerns are two-fold.

Firstly Planning, as far as I can recall is a Statutory Duty placed on the Local Authority – Planning fees were introduced may years ago, but this really is taking the charging to a new level. Who assesses the value for money test? Will it guarantee a level of service, that frankly we have not enjoyed previously in Nottingham? Will you be able to get a suitably qualified Planning Officer (we have just lost another Planning Director – a post that has proved difficult to fill over a long period).

Secondly – and this is my real concern – is that the Planning Committee can still ignore (and sometimes do ignore) the Officer recommendations laid before them. There are no guarantees that having gone through the new process that the mavericks on the Committee don’t consign your expensive designs to the scrap heap. Our Development Control Committee (a the Planning Committee is properly known) is lovingly known as the “Out of Control Committee”. I can’t see that changing any time soon – even when you have paid for the job!

Time will tell if this new system works – but at this point in the economic cycle did we ought to be having no (or fewer) barriers to development?

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