EDDC starts to charge for pre-application planning advice

EAST Devon District Council has introduced a scale of charges for pre-application planning advice.

EAST Devon District Council has introduced a scale of charges for pre-application planning advice.

The change, which follows a resolution from the council's Executive Board in December last year, came into effect on Monday (February 1).

Agents for major planning clients have been sent letters advising them of the changes.

A council spokesman said: "The purpose of the charges is to allow the council to properly resource advice to prospective applicants to ensure that they submit quality applications and to avoid those applications that have no prospect of success.

"East Devon is not the first council in Devon to introduce such charges; South Hams has done for some time. Pre- application advice is seen as a positive tool to enable quality schemes to come forward sooner, rather than later."

The money raised will be used to improve the pre-application advice service. The charges are described as modest and could save potential applicants money in the long run by avoiding applications that have no chance of success and ensuring that when applications are submitted they will not then need fundamental revisions, which can lead to additional substantial architects' fees and so on.

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Whilst the council will continue to encourage applicants to use this service, it will not be mandatory. Householders will not be required to pay for such advice. Other groups such as parish councils, registered charities and affordable housing providers will also be exempt.

The Government encourages pre-application advice and does not rule out local councils charging for good quality advice, provided those charges can be reasonably justified and there is a proper customer charter in place before any such charges are introduced.

Charges range from �125 per meeting or advice session for small applications (a single new house or house conversion) to �750 for major applications (residential development of more than 200 houses or non-residential floor space of more than 10,000 square metres).