Changes to the planning service during Covid-19 - 11 Jan Update
Published: 11 January 2021
The government has made it clear that planning should continue where practicable and we are trying our best to provide our normal service, albeit working from home.
We are currently experiencing high customer demand for our service and given the current working arrangements to account for the pandemic, we need to prioritise our time efficiently. We are therefore amending our availability by telephone so that we can process planning applications. During January 2021, we will only be able to accept calls between 1pm and 5pm. Case officers will contact you if there is additional information needed for your application to progress. We would appreciate it if calls to the department can be kept to a minimum and that you use email to chase progress on cases. We will review this arrangement at the end of January 2021. Thank you.
It is important that you submit sufficient information for us to be able to properly assess the impacts of the proposal, including photographs if you can. If it is not possible to visit the site you should be aware that additional issues could come to light when the site is visited during the application process. We will be prioritising planning applications over provision of pre-application advice so please be patient.
Submitting a new application
We ask that all applications are submitted online which can be done via the Planning Portal. Any applications submitted by hard copy are likely to encounter significant delays in validation due to remote working. Please submit photographs of the site and views towards neighbouring boundaries to help us assess the impact, and add clear dimensions to plans in addition to a scale bar.
Commenting on an application
We ask that all representations are submitted online which can be done whilst viewing the application on our web page.
Planning Officers are undertaking site visits in accordance with Covid secure procedures. We are also using Google maps and Street view and asking applicants to provide photographs of the site and surroundings where possible to enable us to make a full assessment. If we cannot view a site safely, there may be delays in dealing with your application. The case officer will contact you to discuss this. Any site visit that does take place will be done in accordance with social distancing guidelines and minimising contact with others. Your case officer will discuss this with you/your agent if this is necessary.
We are not currently undertaking meetings on site. If you need to discuss a case, the case officer will do this over the telephone. We also have the capability to meet over Skype or Zoom if required.
To meet publicity requirements we are currently sending neighbour notification letters. In a small number of cases, where site notices are required by legislation, we may send the site notice direct to applicants asking them to display the notice in a publically accessible location and send us a photo of it in situ. It is acceptable to put these on lamp posts or fences but please do not put them where the public would have to trespass to read them. On 14 May 2020 temporary legislative changes to the publicity requirements were introduced to give local planning authorities the flexibility to take other reasonable steps to publicise applications if they cannot discharge the specific requirements for site notices, neighbour notifications or newspaper publicity. These steps will notify people who are likely to have an interest in the application and indicate where further information about it can be viewed online. These steps can include the use of social media and other electronic communications and must be proportionate to the scale and nature of the proposed development.
In the current climate, assessments of breaches reported will take longer than normal. We may request further information from you to aid in the investigation; such as photographs or measurements. We are carrying out site visits in accordance with Covid secure procedures on a case by case basis and depending on the priority and the ability to meet Government Guidance.
The government has introduced emergency legislation to allow Planning Committees to take place virtually using video conferencing. The City Council continues to hold Planning Committee meetings on a monthly basis.
Determining your application
Due to the above restrictions there may be some delay in determining your application, particularly if we or other consultees cannot visit the site to make an assessment. We will aim to minimise disruption and delay by seeking further information from you as indicated above.
Thank you for your patience during this difficult time.