New cost for pre-planning advice
THE council may begin charging for the advice it gives on building plans later this year.
Argyll and Bute Council’s planning department currently offers people free advice before they submit planning applications, but its popularity is putting pressure on reduced resources.
Development manager Peter Bain, speaking at Connel Community Council on Thursday last week, said the planning budget had seen a service cut of 25 per cent over the past two years.
‘We have had more than 2,000 formal applications submitted over 2016,’ he said, with 1,200 written submissions for pre-planning advice in 2016-17.
Angus Gilmour, head of planning and regulatory services, said an introduction is likely in the summer this year, but there will need to be ‘a lead-in time so we do not spring it on the public’.
An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson later told The
Oban Times: ‘Like all local authorities, we are having to make changes to how we work to protect services as much as possible from the impact of significantly reduced funding.
‘The council took the decision at last year’s budget-setting meeting to introduce charges for pre-application advice in preparing planning applications.
‘ We are developing the level of advice available without charge on our website. As planning applications vary in complexity, we are establishing a sliding scale of fees so that, where people still need advice from us, cost is matched fairly to the scale of the planning application.
‘We expect charges to be introduced in the summer.’