Planning Portal introduce service charging

The Planning Portal was a website the Government produced and encouraged planning agents to use to submit all planning applications. Following it being sold off to private ownership we are disappointed to find they have now introduced a service charge for applications submitted via their portal which for a householder application is approximately 10% of the actual planning fee. We feel that this is unreasonable and a disproportionate cost to the service provided. We care a lot about every penny of our clients’ money so therefore we shall no longer be using the Planning Portal to submit our client’s applications and instead will use another portal. We are concerned that if the other portal decides to follow suit and start charging then applicants will be forced to pay a charge for something they shouldn’t need to. Let’s not forget this charge has no historic basis and will do nothing to improve the resources and therefore performance of local planning authorities so it offers no benefit to the applicants who have to pay it. We have asked planning authorities if we can submit directly but been advised that although they would be happy to, they no longer have facility to provide application forms or accept directly. This seems unfair and we shall be lobbying to try and get this system changed so applicants don’t have to pay unreasonable service charges to 3rd party companies they have no option but to use.