Agenda Item No.
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
PLANNING COMMITTEE: 17TH MARCH,
REFERENCE FROM CABINET: 21ST
ARRANGEMENTS FOR CHARGING FOR PRE-APPLICATION PLANNING ADVICE (PT)
(SCRUTINY - ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT) -
Cabinet considered the introduction of fees
for pre-application planning advice for specific types of
development and were requested to review the hourly rate for
providing general planning information and advice.
Section 93 of the Local Government Act 2003,
which was enacted in Wales in 2006 provided power for authorities,
as defined in the Local Government Act 1999, to charge for
discretionary services. Discretionary services were those
services that an authority had the power but not a duty to
Currently, the authority provided a free
pre-application advice service to all. In the financial year
2009/10 the Development Control Group received 500 requests for
pre-application advice. Requests for such advice were
encouraged to be in writing to keep proper records, but advice was
also provided by phone or in meetings. The extent of advice
provided was limited by the staff resources available and the need
to complete programmed work, for which a planning fee had been
paid, or to process appeals or enforcement complaints which had to
be completed to set statutory deadlines. Planning fees were
paid for most planning applications, lawful development
certificates, most prior notification submissions and High Hedge
Requests for advice on whether planning
permission would be granted needed to be researched and detailed
responses provided. This is similar to part of the work
involved in assessing a planning application (where a fee would
have to be paid).
Not all proposals that were the subject of
pre-application discussions resulted in the submission of a
planning application and associated fees. It was not uncommon
for a developer to propose a very major scheme and insist that it
needed to be considered by senior officers at several different
meetings but then not to progress with the proposal.
Furthermore, such advice could be totally ignored by
Research had been undertaken into charging for
pre-application advice by the Planning Advisory Service (PAS), a
government funded organisation. This research had found that
Councils in England consider that charges have focussed the minds
of agents they deal with. Other Councils were particularly
pleased that when they introduced pre-application charging there
was an appreciable reduction in time wasting enquiries creating
more time for officers to undertake more productive elements of
Cabinet noted that the trend for charging for
pre-application advice was increasing in Wales with Bridgend,
Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Denbighshire and Brecon Beacons
National Park recently introducing pre-submission charging
It was proposed that charges apply to major
developments such as new residential developments, change of use of
buildings over 1000m², new buildings and extensions over 1000m², mixed used
developments over 1000m², other large scale/complex applications
such as a small wind farm, and minor developments such as 1-9
dwellings, change of use of buildings under 1000m², new buildings
and extensions to non-residential buildings between up to 1000m² in
size, mixed use development less than 1000m² and
Charges would not apply to the provision of
advice relating to householder development, heritage proposals,
Council proposals or partnership/joint venture enterprise, Town and
Community Council proposals, developments necessitated as a
consequence of permitted development rights being removed, District
Valuers queries, Tree advice or a development for a known profit
making community facility scheme by a registered charity or
voluntary sector organisation.
Attached at Appendix B to the report was a
random sample of other authorities which showed wide variations in
the charges applied for pre-application advice. The proposed
fees for the Vale of Glamorgan would be towards the bottom end for
written responses. The fees for meetings was not as straight
forward as several authorities calculated their fees as the
'written response' with an additional hourly rate for meetings as a
combined service package for the service.
The current proposal would be based on the
time and costs involved in responding to requests for written
advice and a request for a meeting, which was likely to require
written confirmation. In the case of referring significant or
strategic skills the ability to agree a charge 'up front' for a
programme of pre-application advice over a period a time was built
into the schedule.
The advantages of charging for pre-application
Additional revenue stream to the authority to help safeguard and
sustain the service provided, at a time of financial
The maintenance of a pre-application advice service and an
intention to provide an improve pre-application advice service to
serious developers which in turn led to improved planning
applications and better quality developments in the Council's
area. The provision of chargeable advice was preferred to the
withdrawal of provision of advice.
The elimination of many serial/time wasting enquiries creating more
time for officers to undertake more productive elements of their
work for the community.
Attached at Appendix A to the report was a
draft pre-application charging advice note detailing the charging
arrangements that the Council could use. The advice also
covered costs for undertaking research and planning histories and
in respect of other information.
Finally, it was also recommended that the
standard fee already charged for planning enquiries relating to
searches or information provision to £50 per hour to reflect the
work involved and the need to raise fee income to sustain the work
of the Division.
This was a matter for Executive decision.
(1) T H A
T subject to consultation with the Planning Committee, the
introduction of fees for pre-application planning advice in
accordance with the principle and schedule attached at Appendix A
to the report be approved.
(2) T H A
T the increase in the fees charged for general planning enquires
relating to searches or information provision from £30 to £50 an
hour be approved.
(3) T H A
T a progress report be brought before Cabinet in February 2012.
Reasons for decisions
seek authorisation to commence charging fees for pre-planning
application advice in accordance with the Local Government Act
cover the costs of providing general planning information to
companies and the public.
Attached as Appendix - Report to Cabinet: 21st