The Government is making changes to planning fees through the introduction of the Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2023. This is due to come into force on 6th December 2023.

This amends the fee regulations introduced in 2012 (via the Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits) (England) Regulations 2012).

This Briefing Note provides a quick summary of the main changes.

Key Headlines

  • Planning fees will increase by 35% for major applications with a 25% increase for all other applications (eg. minor applications, householder applications and prior approval applications).
  • There will then be an annual increase in fees from 1 April 2025 in line with inflation (measured via the Consumer Price Index) or 10% (whichever is lower).
  • The ‘free-go’ is removed for repeat applications within 12 months of the original application.
  • The ‘planning guarantee’ is reduced to 16 weeks for minor applications but the 26 week period is retained for major applications. This is the point at which an applicant can get their planning fee refunded if a planning application remains undetermined and no extension of time is agreed.
  • It still appears the intention that extensions of time are to only be granted in ‘exceptional circumstances’ but the details of this are not found in the regulations.
  • Planning fee increases are not ringfenced for planning departments.

Transitional Period

  • The regulations were made on 8th November 2023 and will come into force on 6th December 2023.
  • The abolition of the ‘free-go’ only relates to applications validated on 6th December 2023 or later (giving the effect of this being gradually ‘phased out’).

Implications for Planning Applications

  • Developers will likely want their applications validated before the fees increase to save money and ideally not lose the chance of the ‘free-go’.
  • We will need to await further details on what constitutes ‘exceptional circumstances’ for granting extensions of time. At worst, it may mean that there will be an increased likelihood of having to withdraw planning applications if matters are not resolved by the determination deadline (or have the application refused).
  • A consequence of this is that pre-application discussions are going to be more important, although no indications have been given on how this is to be resourced.
  • No further details on how the Government is going to train up more planners to provide a better service. This has been mentioned previously and is especially important if fee increases are not to be ringfenced.

This paper was prepared by

Chris Martin

Associate Planner