PEOPLE submitting planning applications to Shropshire Council now face charges of up to £1,750 for pre-application advice.

Previously the council had offered a range of informative services for free but opted to introduce charges from April 1 this year, in a move that could put many people off making alterations to their home even before a planning application has been submitted.

The council says there is long standing support for local planning authorities to provide pre-application advice, and said it wishes to continue to encourage and promote engagement through the process.

However there appears to be no standard pricing plan laid down by Central Government, with Shropshire Council charging significantly more for such services than neighbouring Wrexham County Borough Council.

Shropshire Council is charging a £200 flat rate for advice on single dwellings as an ‘incentive’, while people wanting to make alterations to a single dwelling in Wrexham are receiving advice for free.

A new pre-application advice approach agreed by Shropshire Council’s central area committee, on March 10, read: “Such advice is critical to ensure that submitted planning applications do not get delayed due to lack of information.

“The council has decided that the cost of providing this service should be recovered directly from the developer and not fall as a general cost to the council taxpayer.

Shropshire Council states that a successful pre-application approach can help would-be developers save on costs further down the line by ensuring correct considerations are in place from the outset.

It also says customers will get a co-ordinated response from a range of technical specialists such as highways and access, rights of way, ecology and landscape.
In 2009-2010 Shropshire Council received a total of 2,131 pre-application inquiries.
In the corresponding period it dealt with 69 major applications, 1061 minor applications, and 2059 other applications.
But whether the new charges will lead to a decrease in the number of planning applications being submitted to the council remains to be seen, with the council promising an enhanced service to try and initiate a positive outcome for prospective developments.