Concern has been raised that the introduction of a £150 fee for anyone to appeal against a planning decision could deter genuine appellants from coming forward.
The fee came into force on August 1, with Infrastructure Minister David Cretney MHK saying that it would ‘provide a level of cost recovery towards the provision of the planning appeal service to all interested persons’.
Eddie Power, a member of the Ballasalla and District Residents’ Association (BADRA) which has fought planners since the first plans were submitted to develop the Poachers Pocket site, said the fee had been set too high.
He said: ‘I know the fee is meant to deter some of the frivolous appeals but I think it will frighten off the ordinary people. The ordinary man in the street who hasn’t been through the appeal system before.
‘Mr Ordinary who has never appealed before and suddenly finds housing is being built next door.
‘He’ll either have to put up with it or move house.’
Chief Minister Allan Bell told the Examiner about 20 per cent of planning decisions were appealed, at a considerable cost to the department.
‘It is absolutely right in the present climate that the department considers all ways of reducing that cost and also to ensure the system is not bogged down by frivolous planning appeals which have in the past been the case.
‘For those people that carry out successful appeals the money will be refunded so genuine appellants have nothing to worry about.’
Mr Bell said there was no evidence from neighbouring jurisdictions which already impose a fee that ‘genuine’ appellants would be deterred.
The DoI confirmed that the fee applies equally to anyone appealing a planning decision.
It includes local authorities, Tynwald members and Government departments .
Mr Power said planners should allow residents’ associations, such as BADRA, to appeal a decision, so members would pay one fee.
The department has said that groups/associations can be awarded interested person status, and would be charged £150 to appeal.
Interested party status is given in accordance with criteria set out in the Town and Country Planning (Development Procedure) Order and Government Circular 1/06.
But Mr Power said that planners were ‘very strict’ on who was awarded interested party status, and that it had never been afforded to BADRA.
Tynwald approved the introduction of the fee in July.
It followed a detailed consultation with the public in Autumn 2012.
The fee is payable by each appellant who makes an appeal.
Appellants are defined as persons by whom an appeal is brought, and this can be the applicant, the owner, the local authority and statutory bodies and other people who are given interested party status.
The £150 fee compares favourably with neighbouring jurisdictions. In Northern Ireland, it’s lower at £126.
The cost in the Republic of Ireland ranges from £175 and £3,500 depending upon the nature of the proposed.
In Jersey, the appeal fee is fixed at £200 in respect to a first party appeal and £300 for a third party appeal.
None of these jurisdictions offers a full refund to successful appellants.