Development corporation set to charge up to £9.5k for pre-application sessions
The London Legacy Development Corporation is to introduce fees for providing pre-application planning advice for the first time. It will charge up to £9,500 for a single session for large schemes.
Councils have been allowed to charge developers and householders for pre-application advice for well over a decade. But the LLDC – which was created oversee the regeneration of east London’s 2012 Olympics site and its surroundings – is not a council, and charging powers were only extended to development corporations earlier this year.
Members of the LLDC’s planning decisions committee gave their backing last week to a new schedule of fees that the corporation’s director of planning policy can adopt once they have been advertised locally for three weeks.
While officer advice on developments of up to three new homes, extensions and advertisements will be free, the LLDC proposes charging £9,500 plus VAT for a pre-application advice session for schemes of more than 149 new homes or larger than 10,000sq m.
For that, developers would get “an initial meeting and a written response providing officer advice on the proposal”. According to the schedule, a follow-up meeting would incur an additional £6,500-plus-VAT fee.
The cheapest category for which advice would be billed relates to minor development, such as residential schemes of four to nine units, mixed-use schemes of up to 999sq m and advice on minor amendments. They would cost £3,500 plus VAT for an initial session and advice letter.
Major developments of up to 49 homes would attract a pre-application advice fee of £5,500, and those of up to 149 homes would attract a £7,500 fee, plus VAT. Folllow-up meetings would typically cost at least £1,000 less than the initial meetings.
In a report to committee members, LLDC principal planning development manager Daniel Davies said all the London Olympics host boroughs had adopted charging schedules for pre-application advice and the LLDC’s was “competitive” in relation.
“Officers remain of the view that it would be appropriate to charge an initial fee for a meeting and written advice and to apply reduced fees for subsequent follow-up meetings,” he said.
“This approach to charging is common among other London boroughs. Where pre-application advice is requested for proposals that would fall into the ‘householder’ or ‘other’ category it is proposed that no fee will be charged.”
Davies said LLDC rarely received householder requests, and added that the lack of a charge should not disincentivise residents or small businesses based in the Olympic footprint area from seeking officer input.
He said that where charges would be made officers were satisfied fees had been pitched at a level that would enable applicants to incorporate additional service costs to cover specialist consultant costs where they were required.
A report to the meeting said the latest pre-application advice fees were the third incarnation of the charging proposals, following the approval of schedules in 2013 and 2015. Neither of those fee sets were introduced because the law change allowing development corporations to charge for pre-application advice only came into effect in January this year.
West London’s Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, set up to redevelop the 650ha brownfield area surrounding the intersection of Crossrail and HS2, adopted charges for pre-application advice in July. Its most expensive advice category is £5,500 plus VAT for developments in excess of 150 homes or 10,000 sq m of floorspace.
LLDC said the London Borough of Tower Hamlets had a top-band pre-application advice charge of £15,000, while Newham council’s top bracket was £14,400.
Under the Local Government Act 2003, local authority income derived from charging fees should not exceed the cost of providing services and cannot be used to subsidise other operations.
Davies said the LLDC had The LLDC had budgeted for fee income of £650,000 fee from the planning performance agreement system it currently runs and the new pre-application advice charges in the current financial year. He said the planning policy and decisions team’s costs for the period were forecast to be £2.8m.