Gerald Eve Backs Calls For Urgent Government Action On Funding For Westminster’s Planning Service

Leading central London planning adviser Gerald Eve has backed the Westminster Property Association’s call for urgent action from the Government to allow Westminster Council to approve the early introduction of increased planning fees.

Hugh Bullock, senior partner and head of planning and development at Gerald Eve said: “Government is promoting development and growth. That is why it is vital that authorities are given more freedom, without delay to fund their planning service properly”.

The WPA has urged the Secretary of state to approve the early introduction of increased planning fees so Westminster council can avoid having to make 31 staff redundant in September.

The Council says that it needs to increase planning fees to raise an extra £1.3m in 2011/12 and a further £340,000 in 2012/13, and will have to make 31 redundancies in September if it is prevented from increasing planning fees.

WPA chairman David Silverman this week wrote to Pickles, saying: “We think the government is dragging its heels because it thinks the introduction of planning fees is contrary to their agenda for growth. Please bring in fees ‘sooner rather than later’ is what our members are saying. A properly funded and excellent planning service is an absolutely essential part of an agenda for growth.

“Developers are happy for local authorities to be self-funded. That’s a major preference to the alternative. The cost of delay in applications on major schemes is immense.”