CHARGES are being introduced for a previously free advisory service which could earn the council up to £40,000 per year.

Darlington Borough Council operates the ‘One Stop Shop’ advisory service for developers and householders who want to know whether their proposals need planning permission and how successful their proposals are likely to be.

A report presented to the council’s cabinet this week outlined that the service helps prevent poor quality applications, thus reducing the time taken to process them, but it does mean that the council is subsidising a service that not everybody benefits from.

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The council’s cabinet agreed that a scale of charges should be introduced in March ranging from £20 to advise whether householder developments need planning permission or not, rising to £500 for advice on larger developments.

It is estimated that introducing the fees could earn the council between £20,000 and £40,000 per year.

The policy will be reviewed after 12-months.