Guidance on planning applications and Fee Charging for ‘Flexible Uses’
In recent years Knowsley Council has received an increased number of applications which propose ‘Flexible Uses’, that is applications for planning permission which propose the erection of one or a number of buildings and asks the Council to grant planning permission for the use of that building for a variety of purposes such as Class E or Class B2 or Class B8 development.
A ‘Flexible’ use is not to be confused with a ‘Mixed’ or ‘Dual’ use of a building which entail two or more different activities which fall under separate use classes being undertaken in one building (such as a drive thru restaurant where the sale of hot food to take away makes up a high proportion of sales).
When the Council receives an application for ‘flexible uses’ it is required to consider the merits of each use applied for as a flexible use individually. Therefore, when planning applications for ‘flexible’ uses are received the Council will expect the applicant to:
- Provide a clear description of the development on the application form
- Include consistent documentation which refer to the flexible use and relevant technical documents (such as Transport Assessments, Air Quality Assessments and Noise Assessments) should include an analysis of each use that has been applied for.
- Provide layout plans (and if relevant elevations) for each use applied for
When calculating the fee for ‘flexible uses’ the Council will apply Paragraph 10 of Chapter 2 of Schedule 1 of the Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications etc.) (England) Regulations 2012 (as amended) which states that:
“Where an application is made for planning permission (or approval of reserved matters) is made in respect of two or more alternative proposals for the development of the same land and the application is made in respect of all of the alternative proposals on the same date and by or on behalf of the same applicant, the fee payable (shall be) an amount equal to the highest of the amounts calculated in respect of each of the alternative proposals; and an amount calculated by adding together the amounts appropriate to all of the other alternative proposals and dividing that total by the figure of 2.”
In practice, for ‘Flexible Use’ industrial development, this means that the Council will require a fee
i. for the floor area of the building; plus
ii. the total application fee (again calculated by reference to the floor area) for all of the other ‘flexible’ uses, divided by two.
For instance, if an application is made for a building with an external floor area of 1000m2 to be used as a flexible E, B2 or B8 use, the fee would be calculated as set out below:
The fee for industrial floorspace is calculated based on £462 for each 75m2 (or part thereof)
1000m2/75m2 = 13.3 In accordance with the Fee Regulations this must be rounded up to 14
14 x £462 = £6,468
In this instance, because the proposed building is the same, the fees for each of the three alternative proposals would be the same. This means the fee would be calculated as set out below:
£6,468 + (£6,468 + £6,468) = £12,936
The consideration of an application for flexible uses requires the informed assessment of several land uses and amenity issues which will have manifestly different potential impacts. The land uses would be mutually exclusive and the consideration of the planning merits of each use must be fully understood and taken into account. It therefore follows that application of Paragraph 10 of Chapter 2 of Schedule 1 of the Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications etc.) (England) Regulations 2012 (as amended) to applications for alternative uses accords with National Planning Practice Guidance which identifies that users of the planning system rather than taxpayers in general should meet the costs incurred when deciding planning applications.
The Council will review whether the correct fee has been paid as part of the ‘validation’ process, if the fee that has been paid is less than the fee that the Council deems is required then the application will not be validated. Any overpayments will be refunded.
Where the Council identifies that an application proposes a ‘flexible use’, the applicant or their representatives will be made aware of this policy at the earliest opportunity, and it will be shared with any pre-application enquiries which propose an industrial use.
Planning Fees Relating to Applications for ‘Flexible Uses’ Report’