PLANS to increase the amount BCP Council spends on publicising planning applications has drawn criticism.

Conservative councillors have hit out at the preferred option to bring processes into line across the three towns which could cost the council an extra £123,000-a-year.

But cabinet member for strategic planning, councillor Margaret Phipps, said it was a “transitional” arrangement.

A report published last week recommends that the new council adopts a mixed method of publicising planning applications including site notices and more expensive letters.

Because letters, which cost about £4 on average to send out, were not used in Bournemouth the new approach will cost £15,000 more than it spends at the moment.

However, a discounted option to use only site notices would have saved the authority £108,000 annually.

On Monday, members of the council’s overview and scrutiny board, which has a Conservative majority, agreed to recommend that when the cabinet makes its final decision on Wednesday, it abandons the use of letters.

Conservative councillor Mike Greene said: “Most residents will not know what the process is and I think this will be the worst option of all worlds.

“The additional cost is not a minor sum at all – it’s council tax-payers’ money that could be used differently.

“In Bournemouth letters have not been sent out for some time and we have not seen an influx of concerns from residents.”

A report to the cabinet, ahead of its meeting on Wednesday, says letters cost the council three times more than a notice and recommends they only be sent in specific circumstances.

It says they are "more effective and efficient", at a cost of about £1.33 each, than sending letters out individually at a cost of £4 each.

Speaking on Monday, cabinet member for strategic planning, councillor Margaret Phipps, said the recommended approach would allow the council to eventually move to a cheaper method.

“It would be quite a shock to residents in Poole and Christchurch if they suddenly received no notification of planning applications near to them,” she said.

“This is working towards a transition of more digital methods being used while also leaving this to officers’ judgment depending on the type of application.

“But we are also looking at using things such as posting site notices through neighbours’ doors rather than more expensive individual letters.”

A final decision will be made at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.