Pre application advice will now come with a price tag - £60 for minor developments, £2,500 for larger, complex ones

The Roddons development at Elliot Road in March.

The Roddons development at Elliot Road in March. - Credit: Archant

Advice will no longer be free in Fenland for anyone wanting guidance before submitting a planning application.

Previously there had been no charge for developers at pre-application level but that’s about to change.

Fenland District Council has approved the new charge which intends to save planning officers time and hopes that applicants will deliver more detailed reports.

There is to be a “scale of charges” depending on the type of application (e.g. minor, major or other).

Major projects (large scale, complex developments) will come with a £2,500 pre-application price tag while someone looking to make a minor household development will pay upwards of £60.

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Councillor Dee Laws said: “For years I think our officers have been burdened with applications expecting advice. “The fees brought in will make the applicants a bit sharper when they bring them in.”

Councillor Jan French also welcomed the charges, as long as the advice given is of a “good quality”.

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Councillor Will Sutton, Fenland District Council’s portfolio holder for neighbourhood planning, said: “It’s a way of getting the ducks in a line. You get what you pay for.”

The level of service that will be provided for the charge will include the scope of work and what is included (e.g. duration and number of meetings or site visits.”

Officials will also take into account the amount of officer time recognising that some proposed development requires input from officers across the local authority or other statutory and non-statutory bodies.

The council also agreed that pre-application engagement should be a two way process and the level of information required by the local planning authority needs to be proportionate to the development proposed.

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