UK government revives planning tariff proposals

The government has announced that it is to resurrect controversial proposals for a planning gain tariff on new development. Planning Minister, Keith Hill, announced the government’s decision to 1,500 delegates at the British Council of Shopping Centres conference in Birmingham.

Councils will be given the option of establishing a tariff system charging developers by the amount of floorspace they create. The money would then be used to fund other improvements to the area.

However, councils will also be allowed to stick with the existing system, under which planners negotiate with developers on a day-to-day basis. The proposals are open for consultation until 8 January.

A similar system was proposed in December 2001 but met with vociferous opposition from the property industry. However, the new proposals were met with a far less hostile reception from the property industry, because of the element of choice given to local authorities which was absent in the original proposals.

Liz Peace, Chief Executive of the British Property Federation, commented: “This could be a very interesting compromise. But it will require a strategic view from local authority planners of what an area needs over the next ten 10 years, and I am not sure that local authorities have the resources for that.”

Jeremy Edge, Head of Planning at ATIS REAL Weatheralls, branded the tariff a “recipe for disaster”, as it would be permanently out of date due to the lengthy procedures involves in rewriting development plans.

“The market is cyclical, but the tariff will not reflect those changes”, he said. “It also begs a question about the purpose of planning gain, which has always been to compensate for any damage done by the development, not to provide general funding for a council.”

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