Calls for Powys to be given the power to set its own planning fees have been backed by councillors.

The call for more money to deal with planning applications comes just six months after the council’s planning service was heavily criticised in a report by Audit Wales.

At a meeting of Powys County Council on Thursday, December 7 councillors discussed a motion brought forward by cabinet member for planning, Liberal Democrat Cllr Jake Berriman.

Cllr Berriman asked all councillors to back his call to review the fee paying system for planning applications.

He explained that he had already sent letters to Julie James MS, the Welsh Government minister for Climate Change, which includes the planning brief, and had not received a reply.

Cllr Berriman wanted the added “gravitas” of cross the board support as he pursues the matter and continues to request that the Powys planning service be allowed to set its own fees to put it on a course for full cost recovery.

His motion was backed by the Conservative chairman of the Planning committee, Cllr Karl Lewis.

Cllr Lewis said: “I’m happy to second this motion.

“It’s time we operated the planning department as a business, and this allows us to do that – I encourage my friends on the Labour benches to have public and private conversations with the minister to encourage her to do this.”

Independent group leader, Cllr Heulwen Hulme said: “As a member of the planning committee I welcome this.

“We often have discussion about the poor quality of planning applications.

“This has the potential to improve the quality of submissions and make the agents focus more and ensure the applicants get value for money.

Conservative group leader, Cllr Aled Davies said that he “struggled” with the motion as everyone’s experience of the planning department isn’t “fantastic.”

Cllr Davies worried that this would add further financial burden on households and businesses of Powys and get hoped that the Cllr Berriman was collaborating with other colleagues across Wales on this request.

Cllr Davies said: “Our voice is not always that strong, you do sometimes wonder if a letter from Powys gets filed away in the too hard to do category.

Conservative Iain McIntosh remembered doing something similar around three years ago.

Cllr McIntosh said “We wrote to the minister to try and make changes and what we got sent back to us is we can’t do it on an individual basis – we have to treat the whole of Wales the same.

“I expect we’d get the same result back, while I support this, I’m dubious it will get anywhere.”

A vote was held, and councillors supported the motion unanimously.

The Welsh Government said: “Income from planning applications does not fully cover the cost of the planning services across Wales.

“We will look at the implications of seeking full cost recovery, while ensuring developers and taxpayers get an efficient, value for money planning service wherever they live.”