COUNCIL chiefs have revealed that people will now have to pay if they want advice before they submit a planning application.
East Staffordshire Borough Council confirmed that anyone seeking advice from planning officers in advance of submitting a planning application will now need to pay for the advice they receive.
The price of the fee varies based on the advice that is being provided and the help ranges from simple questions such as asking if planning permission is required to more complicated enquiries where applicants and agents need to discuss issues in more detail.
Sonia Andjelkovic, deputy leader for regulatory services, said: "Obtaining pre-application advice is not compulsory but it is advised, as it can result in the resolution of difficult issues prior to submission of a planning application.
"Development outcomes are generally better if applicants engage early on with the planning department as it avoids applications being refused unnecessarily.
"Many other local authorities across Staffordshire already have a pre-application service which is charged for."
The more complicated the planning query or the larger the potential planning application the larger the fee.
Pre-application enquiries will require the submission of a pre-application advice form with the fee which provides planning officers with enough information to be able to respond.
The response from planning officers will be structured and consistent and will set out constraints associated with the site, the policy framework against which a decision will be made, the likely requirements upon submission and information that provides an 'in principle' view of the likelihood of gaining consent.
More information is available online at www.planningportal.gov.uk