All staff in the Planning Service are now working from home until further notice. We are now well placed to continue to provide a slightly reduced service through remote working. However, like most other organisations, there are some limitations about what we can do following latest government and local authority advice.
Details of the reduced Planning Service are below:
We will continue to receive and validate all new planning applications that are submitted, although there may be a slight delay in the initial first contact back from us. Due to limitations (social distancing/staff working from home) it is not possible for us to promptly carry out certain procedures that are part of a typical planning application. However, we now have all processes and procedures in place to receive, validate and publicise new planning applications.
We will process the vast majority of newly submitted planning applications (subject to validation) except for the following types of applications:
listed building consents where complex internal alterations are proposed
change of use applications (including some prior approval applications) where it is essential for officers to view the inside of the building(s)
all planning applications where officers:
must enter the site and be accompanied to view key parts of the site from the rear
must see part of the site not visible from public vantage points * and/or
cannot obtain verified images/video clips of specified areas *
potentially large scale and/or complex planning applications where accompanied site visits (with applicants/agents/key statutory consultees/other experts) are essential and where it will be difficult to meet social distancing requirements.
* Officers will carry out unaccompanied site visits if social distancing requirements can be met and following agreement with the applicant.
Message to all applicants and agents
During this time we ask that you use either the Planning Portal or iapply to make applications to us, or email them in. If documents are required at any stage, please email them using the addresses below:
- pre-application advice and wheeled bin forms: email@example.com
- CIL notices: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are trying to reach someone in the Planning Office please email us at email@example.com and we will ensure you get a reply.
By working together during these unprecedented times we can ensure that, although it may not be ‘business as usual’, we can keep new development progressing as it should.
What will happen with newly submitted planning applications?
We are continuing to receive new planning applications and notices for CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy). We are working as best we can to process new applications, subject to certain restrictions such as limited access to printing facilities and not being able to visit sites.
New planning applications will be published in the press and on our Public Access System for online viewing.
With the help of colleagues in other departments we are now able to post out neighbour notification letters and put up site notices for qualifying applications.
We would like to reassure you that for applications where we have a statutory obligation to notify people of an application by site notice or letter, you will have the opportunity to let us know your views. The best way to do this is via our Public Access System or to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How will you prioritise planning applications?
As well as applications that are essential to the supply chain of responding to COVID-19 issues, we will prioritise:
determining planning applications where statutory public notification has been completed and site visits have taken place
newly submitted planning applications where statutory public notification has been completed and planning officers are satisfied that sufficient information is available about the site and surrounding area
any time critical prior approvals/determinations where possible
older planning applications that are in a position to be determined.
Will you be holding Development Management Committee (DMC) planning meetings?
DMC meetings will be held virtually for the foreseeable future.
The meeting due to be held on 20 April 2020 has been postponed. Once the date of the first virtual meeting is confirmed we will update the DMC meeting page and inform contributors, applicants, agents and third parties.
Will you make use of Extensions of Time agreements?
We fully appreciate the impact that the current health crisis is having on all our customers and partners, such as planning agents, architectural firms, members, town and parish councils and consultees.
We are very mindful of the challenging circumstances for our profession and the sector as a whole and will be making use of mutually agreed Extensions of Time agreements where appropriate, in line with recent government advice.
What is happening with complex heritage-related applications?
Newly submitted complex heritage-related applications, including discharge of conditions, cannot be determined without specialist input.
Apart from those sites already visited, we need to undertake site inspections to discharge this duty. In light of government advice we cannot currently undertake site inspections on more recent applications/enquiries where a site visit is essential or a meeting remains outstanding. This is especially the case where these site visits will be predominantly indoors (as is generally the case with heritage-related applications).
I have paid for a pre-application enquiry
We will prioritise paid for pre-application enquiries where:
- a site visit has already been done
- there is no need to venture out into the district and/or
- officers are in a position to carry out the work required at their home working location.
We will process other paid for pre-application enquiries where, if possible, we can use available technology to make judgements normally required by a site visit.
If you have requested a written pre-application response, the response may be subject to caveats stressing that any position taken in the response relying on technology may be subject to change if it turned out that the true situation on site is not reflective of the technology used or the information provided.
Are you still dealing with dangerous structures?
Are you still dealing with dangerous trees?
We have a statutory duty to protect public health and safety and we will inspect dangerous trees if considered absolutely necessary. We can undertake most inspections using photographs.
Please continue to report these issues to us and, where possible, electronically send photographs and evidence to us at email@example.com.
What is happening with planning appeals?
How are you dealing with planning enforcement issues?
We will prioritise all urgent and important planning enforcement matters, including potential planning enforcement breaches which may result in a risk to human and/or animal life and/or where public health and safety is at risk.
During the current COVID-19 situation there has been a relaxation on some planning restrictions in order to support businesses.
All delivery restrictions have been lifted until further notice and businesses such as cafes and restaurants are allowed to operate as take-aways in line with government publications.
All other restrictions will apply, including opening times, unless replaced by government publications in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Infrastructure and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) matters
Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Charging Authority
Six monthly statutory payments to parish/town councils
Queries on future CIL receipts and S106 obligations
Can you still take payments?
Yes, we can still take payments required for planning-related matters, including legal requirements associated with the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and S106 planning obligations.
At this time, where possible payments should be sent electronically, preferably by BACS transfer.
What’s the best way to get in touch with you?
We have a reduced ability to take and make phone calls so we encourage all our customers and partners to use electronic means of communication in the first instance.
We are asking for your patience as we are experiencing an increase in emails during this time.
What should I do if I require specific planning records/documentation?
As our staff are currently unable to work in the office, if you require copies of plans, planning files, decision notices or any other planning record including Tree Preservation Orders dating from 2002 to present – please self-serve by viewing the Search, Comment or Track an Application page.
Please note if you require any planning records prior to 2002 we cannot provide this service promptly due to remote working, but please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your request.
Unauthorised work to listed buildings
Although our working practices are currently restricted, we would like to remind you that carrying out unauthorised work to a listed building is still considered to be a criminal offence.
If such work is undertaken, we may start enforcement action against you. Please note that this action can be undertaken at any point in the future.
Can I still apply for work to trees?
Applications for work to trees subject to a Tree Preservation Order
You can still submit applications for work to trees subject to a Tree Preservation Order but we cannot process these applications at the moment due to working constrictions. This is because we currently cannot undertake site visits, carry out effective consultation with local groups and supply notification letters to any required consultees.
We will hold your application until our service can resume.
Where current applications are registered with us, and we have undertaken a site visit, we hope to be able to complete our assessment of these as we usually would. If you have a current application for works registered with us and we cannot determine it at this time due to any of the above circumstances, we will contact you separately.
Notifications for works to trees in a conservation area
We are currently able to provide a reduced service for notifications for works to trees in a conservation area. These will now only be subject to a desk-based assessment. If we find we are unable to assess a notification in this way we will notify you as soon as we can.
To help us in determining these notifications, we ask that you please supply as much information as you can. This includes current photographs, clear proposals, and accurate plans. The greater the level of information you are able to provide us with, the quicker we will be able to come to a decision for you. Please help us to help you.
Because of the current limitations of how we are able to work, we cannot assess notifications where:
- the work is proposed to a tree belonging to a neighbour and not your client
- we cannot fully comprehend the scope of the works from the information you have submitted
- we can only assess a notification by undertaking a site visit.
In these situations, we will not validate your notification and inform you as to why we cannot proceed.
Work carried out under the statutory exceptions
We are still able to assess works where they are proposed under the exceptions (dead or imminently dangerous etc). However, we can only review these as a desk-based exercise, so ask that you please forward clear and concise information to us where you would like these to be assessed.
If you have any cases that fall into this category, please forward these to email@example.com marked "5 DAY NOTICE" in the subject line.
These are challenging times for all of us and we hope the above provides a suitable update regarding our services. We are reviewing this regularly to ensure we are following the current government and NHS guidance and will be updating our website to reflect any changes to our position.
Planning policy matters – Bury Neighbourhood Plan
The Bury Neighbourhood Plan has been examined by an independent Examiner and recommended to progress to referendum subject to incorporation of the Examiner’s modifications, all of which have been agreed between Huntingdonshire District Council and Bury Parish Council.
The referendum scheduled for 26 March 2020 has been postponed until further notice.
Section 70(2) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) provides that a local planning authority must have regard to a post-examination neighbourhood plan, so far as is material to determining a planning application.