Concern has been expressed over the impact of the government's proposal to open up the processing of planning applications to competition.
Steve Ingram, the POS Junior Vice President, warned Planning magazine that the government had not considered the implications of politically contentious applications being processed by alternative providers. He said that even when applications are processed by council officers "there can be all sorts of accusations flying around". He added that, if the assessment were to be done by a designated person selected by the applicant, there would be a "danger" of questions being asked over whether the public interest was being served.
Ingram also called for "clarity" over what happens to planning fees in instances where applications are processed by alternative providers. "There's no reference to what happens to the fee," he said, pointing out that even if an application was processed by a private firm, the council could still face a considerable task to determine the application.