Coronavirus Update January 2021.
Please note below the updated service advice relating to the impact of the January 2021 lockdown.
1. Making contact with the service
The best way to contact a planning officer regarding an application or pre-application submission is to email them directly.
If you have a general query please email email@example.com or telephone 01453 766321 and select option 4 and then option 1. Alternatively, the planning pages on the website will provide you with more generic planning advice and generic emails.
2. Making a planning or other application
Please do not submit paper applications or letters if this can be avoided. If you do, there may well be a significant delay in our ability to process them.
3. Commenting on planning applications
If you wish to make a comment on an application, these are best submitted via Public Access.
As the council offices remain closed to the public, we request that you make all planning related payments online.
We are still taking payments via the telephone, contact us on 01453 766321 and select option 4 and then option 1, but please be aware that payment online is the quicker option.
5. Site notices for planning and other applications
Due to current lockdown restrictions, we are asking applicants and/or agents to display notices on the application site themselves. This is to avoid unnecessary interaction with officers and also to address a possible shortage of officers to carry out this task in the future.
Site notices will be emailed to applicants/agents by the planning case officer and they will be asked to display them and send photographic evidence of this to the service to support their application.
Unfortunately, failure to display and photograph a site notice may lead to a delay in the determination of the application.
6. Site visits for applications and enforcement investigations
Planning officers will continue to undertake external site visits where social distancing and other Covid secure measures can be complied with.
Prior to each planning application site visit, planning officers will:
- Risk assess sites on a case by case basis and visits will only be made to those sites which officers are confident that social distancing can be complied with.
- Only undertake visits with the explicit consent of the applicant/agent. When contact is made with the applicant/agent, officers will ascertain if anyone in the household of the site to be visited has symptoms of Covid 19 or is self-isolating or in a vulnerable or shielded group as this may affect our ability to undertake the site visit.
- Organise a time and date for the visit with the applicant/agent.
- Ask for a contact number so that Officers can inform the applicant/agent when they have arrived at and left the site.
- Get prior agreement from the applicant/agent to take photos and/or videos of the site.
- Ask the applicant/agent to open up the site prior to the visit to avoid the need to touch gates etc. unnecessarily.
- Avoid contact with anyone on or surrounding the site - Officers will not engage in conversation regarding the progress of the application. If close human contact becomes unavoidable for any reason, the officer will abandon the site visit and re-arrange.
Enforcement site visits
Please note that site visits related to possible alleged breaches of planning control will also continue. In many cases, these will not require prior contact with the land owner and/or developer, but strict safety and distancing precautions will still apply.
7. Internal site visits and external site meetings
Both internal site meetings and external site meetings are currently suspended.
In these cases, applicants/agents will be asked to support applications or pre-application enquiries with photographs or videos where appropriate.
8. Meetings with officers
We will continue to undertake 'Virtual meetings' as an alternative to face to face meetings.
Pre-application virtual meetings can be requested by completing our Pre-application form.
9. Public Access and application notification
Please use the public access system to set up an application search area for your property. This is the best way to ensure that you are notified of a planning or other application in your area of choice. Guidance on this can be found here and on our webpages.
Reference has been made to the display of site notices at point 5 above, but we will continue to send letters to adjoining neighbours of application sites via Royal Mail. However, public access provides a full-proof mechanism to ensure you are notified of current and new applications in your area.