More savings from planning servicesare likely to be on the way following the Chancellor's shake-up of the way Councils are funded.
In a response to a Planning magazine reporter, Anna Rose, the Society's Senior Vice-President, warned that councils tempted to cut their planning services are more likley to target their policy teams than those processing applications. "Most councils realise that spending on development management services is critical because the applications are in and they are usually getting to the ears of the politicians on the ground. But it's much harder to spot when councils haven't got the resources to make their local plans."
Rose said that the fact that working to progress a local plan does not generate any more income - as opposed to fees from applications - means that "often it's the policy teams that are depleted". With the government recently setting the deadline for all local plans to be produced by early 2017, Rose suggested that councils could look to outsource plan-making or seek to work with neighbouring, better-resourced authorities.
Rose also argued that the way in which councils will benefit from the new power of busuness rate retention will vary hugerly across the country. While district councils may well be able to spend the extra money raised on their planning services, she warned that unitary authorities may not be able to do likewise because they face heavier budgetary pressures from services such as adult and children's social care. "Our big worry is that some areas don't have the ability to grow and therefore they're effectively cut off from that funding stream," she added.