A decision to quadruple the cost of a planning appeal has been reversed by the Minister just weeks before the issue was to be raised in the States.
A new "affordable" appeals system was brought in less than a year ago, so that Islanders wouldn't have the expense of going to the Royal Court if they wanted to challenge a Planning decision. But then last month the Planning Department increased the price cap from £300 to £1,200 via a Ministerial decision, without a public announcement, arguing that the money intended to fund the scheme had been withdrawn as part of States' plans to cut costs.
But the Planning Department has now backed down, announcing that the new "merits-based" appeal fees will stay at 2015 levels for at least another year while they "review" how the new system is working.
Minister for the Environment, Deputy Luce said: “We were reluctant to introduce higher charges for planning appeals but we made this decision when funding for the new appeals system was removed under the Medium Term Financial Plan.
“Following discussion with Deputy Wickenden, we both agreed that if the scheme is to be as accessible as we want it to be, it’s too early to introduce an increase in the appeal fees. This will put pressure on States finances, but I believe we need to ensure the system is running as efficiently and effectively as possible before considering an increase and I’ll review this once the system has had time to settle down.”
Deputy Wickenden added: “I’m pleased that the Minister has re-considered the fees and reduced these to the original 2015 levels. Our discussions confirmed that we both want the appeals system to be accessible and affordable to the public.”
The new system was designed to be cheaper and simpler, and is restricted to people who either live or own property within 50 metres of the development site, or those who have made a written application to Planning in respect of the original application.
From 1 March 2016 the cost of an appeal will be as follows:
The Minister has also agreed to reduce the appeal fees due for appeals submitted since 1 January 2016.
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