Blaenau Gwent introduces planning charge
2:01pm Saturday 7th September 2013 in Gwent news
BLAENAU Gwent council yesterday (Thurs) agreed to introduce a £25 planning charge for permitted development enquiries.
The move comes as part of new Welsh Government regulations for permitted development rights for householders, which will come into force on September 30.
From Monday the council will charge £25 for a yes or no answer to the question of whether planning permission is required. Residents will have to submit a form and pay the fee before they get a written letter from the council, who aim to reply within 10 working days. Residents will not get a reply without paying the charge.
The WAG claims the Town and Country (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (Wales) Order 2013 will provide householders with greater flexibility to make improvements and alterations to their homes; move away from volume thresholds towards an impact assessment based approach for permitted development provide greater protection for World Heritage Sites and require the use of porous or permeable materials.
Councillors at a Blaenau Gwent planning committee meeting heard a report from planning officers which said they ‘regret’ having to introduce a charge but will have to in order to keep up with the new amount of work.
Planning officer Eirlys Hallett said: “It’s introduced with regret, but with the financial position we are in we don’t see that we have any other option. It’s not the way we want to go in terms of service provision, but with the increased work load we hope the charge will deter people from making enquiries which come to nothing.
“Other local authorities in Wales, if they have not already introduced a charge for this service, they are considering it.”
The report presented to the committee said members knew of the cost pressures due to reduced incomes levels and the need to find significant savings in planning, adding in the present financial climate providing a free service is ‘no longer sustainable.’
A council spokeswoman said: “There is a clear distinction between preliminary enquiries and permitted development enquiries.
“The £25 charge is for permitted development enquiries due to the complexity of the new regulations and the general financial situation facing the planning department and the council overall.
“The. Officers will present another report shortly dealing with charging for preliminary enquiries ie those who request an opinion off the council before formally submitting a planning application.
“Both charges are common across Wales and it is no longer sustainable for Blaenau Gwent Council to offer a free service.”
The head of planning and building control will present a further report to the committee on a charging structure for all preliminary enquiries soon.
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