Planning and Building Standards Service COVID -19 Update (2 April 2020)

You may be aware the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill will be shortly become an Act, and has further implications for our planning service and others.

  • One key change is that planning permission that would otherwise lapse in the next 6 months will be extended by 1 year to allow work to start on permissions once restrictions are lifted.
  • The Bill removes the duty requiring public authorities to physically publish or publicise documents or make documents available for physical inspection (libraries, council offices, etc) where it is considered that in doing so it may give rise to a significant risk of transmission of coronavirus. It is anticipated that guidance will be issued by the Scottish Government on the implementation of this power shortly.

The Bill itself does not change statutory requirements in relation to site notices or neighbour notification so for now we are still working with the restrictions on determining relevant applications that we set out last week. This is for both general safety and to ensure that any decisions we issue are properly informed by representations and so are legally sound.

Separately, the Council’s Leadership Advisory Panel has met (in its first Skype meeting) and agreed contingency measures relating to the Planning service:

  • These measures make temporary changes to the Council’s Scheme of Delegation to reduce the number of planning applications which will have to be put on hold until Council committee meetings can be held.
  • Most applications are already decided by delegation, but around 200 each year are decided by the Council’s Development Management Sub-Committee.  The temporary measures mean that these cases will be carefully filtered, with input from relevant councillors, so that some can be decided under delegated powers.
  • This is intended to allow at least some applications to still be decided during this period, and so help the resilience of the city and its economy. Details are available in the report to the Panel (agreed with a motion).

We are also looking at ways Development Management Sub-Committee meetings might be able to take place remotely, which would reduce the need for these temporary measures to be used often.

We are still reviewing how we can adapt to the situation on a regular basis.  We are doing so working with the Scottish Government and the other planning authorities in Scotland. We will continue to share this publicly by posting on this blog and using twitter, so we urge people to subscribe here for our updates to be sent directly by email as soon as they are posted.

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