Guardian letters today. We also have this “premium service” – our prices go from £150 (inc VAT) to £900:
“Further to Simon Jenkins’ article (Wine and dine democracy is now on trial – and about time, 23 February), there is another facet of this situation. Milton Keynes council now offers its residents and prospective developers the possibility of a premium planning service. If we wish to ease the planning and development process we can peruse the biographies of its planning staff on the council website and pick a suitable one. Prices on the site range from £150 to £7,500 plus VAT. The council is “dedicated to building relationships with our customers and therefore have found that some Applicants and Agents like to have the continuity of working with specific Planning Officers”.
This may work very well in some cases by improving planning efficiency, but where is the oversight if Milton Keynes residents find that neighbourhood plans are ignored? The ethos of our initially well-planned town is disappearing while developers who ignore the unique character of the place are helped to get planning permission by a planning authority that has enjoyed a close, paid-for relationship with them.
No doubt the planners show impeccable integrity but, if there is insufficient oversight, the temptations must be there.
Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire”