Covid 19 – Working arrangements for LPAs

PDP_Working Arrangements for LPA

With the ongoing uncertainty caused by the coronavirus we are committed to keeping our clients up to date on everything related to planning & development. The planning service across the UK is still operating. We are in regular contact with planning officers at local authorities across Derbyshire and Staffordshire and a list of planning authority working arrangements is below. This list will be regularly updated as and when the situation develops.

If you are looking to develop land and buildings now is a good time. Pressure on the planning system has eased temporarily. Planning applications can be submitted and some planning officers have more time to focus on individual applications. Whilst we can offer un-accompanied site visits we cannot meet clients directly until the lock down is over. With many planning officers working from home, we have found that the processing of planning applications, is in some cases operating more efficiently and effectively. For example, we have been working on a series of complex cases with one senior planning officer and the level of contact and the quickness of the response received has been very good. We have also received many planning permissions in the last 4 weeks and all the decisions have been made on time.

We have a dedicated staff of architects and planners who can help you develop your ideas and we can deliver sound planning applications. We remain open for business and we continue to provide a FREE half hour advice service, on any land or buildings you are looking to develop. This advice can be given over the phone or by using Skype or Zoom. If you have a question please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 07969 871264.

Amber Valley Borough Council: The development management service is seeking to deliver timely planning decisions at this current time. Please note however meetings in person are suspended both in office and on site. The council’s website will be updated should this change in due course. Should you have any queries please contact planning administration on 01773 841571.

The council’s arrangements for decisions to be made by the Planning Board are under review, pending expected legislation (see council meetings above) and the arrangements will be published here as soon as possible.

We recognise the importance of keeping our development management function operating, and to comply with our determination deadlines as far as possible, and we ask all applicants, agents and interested parties to please recognise that we are working as hard as we can to ensure appropriate development in Amber Valley is not delayed.

AVBC are doing unaccompanied site visits where the health of their staff can be protected.

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council: Virtual planning committees but otherwise no formal statement.

Cheshire East Council: Currently focusing on determining applications where they have already visited the site. All site visits are currently suspended. Applications may take longer. The intention is to continue with Planning Committee but this will need to be done in line with national legislation, so no meetings are arranged yet.

Cheshire West and Chester: Awaiting information.

Derby City Council: We are largely operating as normal bar we are all working from home. A couple of our colleagues do visit the office once a week to print off neighbour notification letters, site notices etc and to deal with any hard copy post.

Some Officers are still carrying out site visits where possible or asking applicants/agents to send clear photographs of the site. Validation, site notice display and consultation is being carried out as normal. Conservation Area Advisory Committee is still operating, by email liaison between our Conservation Officer and the Chair/Vice Chair.

Our pre-application advice service is still operational but we are currently only providing written responses.

Our next planning committee date is 28 May and currently this will still be going ahead. Our Constitutional Services team are still working on the details of how this will work but it will be in some sort of virtual capacity.

Derbyshire Dales District Council: We view visiting sites as an essential part of our job and something that sits outside the normal presumption of working from home. Officers are therefore asked to assess if they can safely visit sites without risk of breaching social distancing guidance. For the most part this is feasible but there may be occasions such as looking at the interior of a listed building where this is not possible. In such circumstances we will need to consider if the alternative of submitted photographs will be sufficient or if we need to extend the determination period. Attending site meetings is not something that we are encouraging. We will continue to provide a pre-app service and are currently exploring the options for video conferencing to replace on site meetings.

Doncaster Council: Asking for current photos from applicants rather than site visits (where possible), otherwise normal function. Virtual committee pending (but not in place yet).

East Staffordshire Borough Council: Site visits continuing for applications but not pre-application enquiries. The intention is to continue with Planning Committee, but this will need to be done in line with national legislation, so no meetings are arranged yet.

North East Derbyshire District Council: is continuing to work as hard as possible with residents and businesses who are submitting or have submitted a planning application.

Due to the ongoing situation surrounding COVID-19, there is a slight delay in the progression of planning applications. Keeping staff and public safe are our main priorities and our Planning Officers are working remotely, in line with Government guidelines.

Site visits have now been suspended in order to safeguard our officers and resource areas where help is needed for our residents who are vulnerable during this pandemic.

We are doing all we possibly can to work as effectively as possible, however, there may be unavoidable delays in the determining of some applications which require a site visit to be carried out.

Due to the restrictions on non-essential travel, we are currently unable to post Site Notices or Neighbour Notifications for new planning applications. We will ensure that full consultation is carried out on these sites before any application is determined.

Peak District National Park Authority: The Development Management service is reacting to the current situation regarding the Covid-19 virus. New planning applications are currently being registered and allocated to officers. However, due to reduced staffing numbers and remote working, there is a significant delay throughout the application process.

Site visits and meetings are not being carried out. Consultation on planning applications will continue. If you have been consulted on an application or wish to comment and require an extension of time to respond, please contact the case officer. We are providing the service as far as we are able to while ensuring we comply with Government guidance for safeguarding of our staff and customers.

The consultation processes for applications have changed. Local newspapers are not being published and therefore we are unable to post Notices in the press. Due to restrictions, we are unable to erect yellow site notices. Not all applications require a site notice to be displayed, but where they are required, we are providing them to applicants and asking that they display the notice for a period of 3 weeks at the application site. You can view the weekly list of planning applications received by the Authority.

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council: Department is still functioning almost as normal. Set up for home working and all officers are working from home full time at the moment. Each officer is taking it in turns to put up site notices and they have one member of staff in the office each day sending out mail. Site visits being conducted in-line with social distancing measures.

Sheffield City Council: Increase in delays to decision, no neighbour notification letters, or publicity is being carried out, they can only comment on current planning applications online. Cannot process planning history requests, or process any postal enquiries.

South Derbyshire District Council: Awaiting information.

Staffordshire County Council: Awaiting information.

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council: Not currently carrying out site visits. No news on timescales or planning committees. Further info awaited.

All information correct at time of publication. Updated April 28th 2020.

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