By Steve Atkinson, Chief Executive, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council and Solace Deputy Spokesperson on Evidence-based Policy
Control of the level of fees for processing planning applications, as you will know, is one of the last vestiges of centralisation (in form, if not reality) and Whitehall is reluctant to let it go. At some point, we might be granted the power to set fees locally; but there will remain significant constraints and the 'victory' of securing hard-won freedoms will be somewhat pyrrhic. We may win the battle, but lose our valued troops in the process.
So, what is going on here? In the majority of other cases, in the true spirit of decentralisation and devolution, councils have been allowed to set their own fees, based on local circumstances, demand and cost. Planning, however, seems to be a special case. Why?