I write in response to comments by Ian Fletcher, director of planning at the British Property Federation (BPF), that “England’s planning system has been underfunded and under-resourced for at least a decade” and government needs to increase fees to “bolster planning teams”.

The BPF has supported government proposals to increase planning fees for major developments by 35%. Planning fees were last increased in 2018, by 20%, but despite this additional income, we have continued to see delays in the system – delays I believe will not be resolved by increasing fees.

Contrary to Fletcher’s claims that local authorities are underfunded, they are overcoming any national planning fee limitation with a broad menu of extra fees, which are themselves in danger of acting as a block to development.

We have encountered a range of additional charges, including those levied for planning performance agreements, multiple pre-planning meetings and checking of viability reports etc. These add tens of thousands of pounds in costs and can give pause to many applications at huge cost to developers.

Unlike planning submission fees, which are capped and set nationally, these fees are unregulated and entirely at the monopolistic behest of the local authority, bringing with them regional variances that serve to further destabilise wider planning strategy in the UK.

In my experience, these additional charges far exceed the level or quality of input involved and serve merely as a substantial additional revenue stream for local authorities.

It may well be that the money being raised by these bolt-on fees is not finding its way into the planning system because it is being used to prop up general local finances, but this is possibly not a matter of underfunding in the planning system, but rather one of inadequate ringfencing.

I therefore question the allegation of overall underfunding of the planning system resulting in the inability to provide adequate resourcing. Our daily encounters with local planning departments suggest there is plenty of additional fee income in the system.

Dexter Moren, partner, Studio Moren