Planning and Building Standards Customer Update

On 30 July, we submitted our latest Planning Performance Framework (PPF) to the Scottish Government. It includes an account of the work done by the Planning Service from April 2018 to March 2019 to improve performance and deliver a high quality planning service and case studies structured around four headings – Outcomes, Service and Engagement, Governance and Continuous Improvement. It also includes statistical information on our performance.

The PPF is used by the Scottish Government to assess the performance of all planning authorities against a standard set of performance markers. You can view the Planning Performance Framework 2018 -2019 on our website.

As part of ongoing customer improvements within Building Standards, we have begun a programme of one-to-one sessions with developers to discuss issues in detail. Newsletters are also being sent out every three months to provide updates and a Stakeholder Panel has been set up to feed ideas for ongoing improvements back into the service.

We are currently reviewing how we carry out Site Inspections.  We will be talking with developers to get views and ideas on proposed changes.

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Customer forum 2018

The Planning and Building Standards Customer Forum is held every year and provides the opportunity for customers and Council officers to get together to discuss current issues.

This year’s forum will take place on Tuesday 10 September from 2pm – 4pm in the Main Council Chambers.

For those of you who haven’t attended before, this event takes the form of presentations and group discussions. We hope a wide range of customers will attend the forum to hear about the changes and improvements put in place in the past year, share views on the service we provide and discuss the ways in which we provide information to customers.

If you would like to come along to the forum, please email planning.servicedelivery@edinburgh.gov.uk with your details as soon as possible and by 3 September at the latest.  Please indicate in your response which customer type best describes you:

  • Community Council or Group
  • Building Standards Applicant/Agent
  • Planning Applicant/Agent
  • Other – please specify

We have space for up to 100 attendees and tea/coffee will be provided. We look forward to seeing you there.

Building Standards: Six top tips for your building warrant applications

Tip 1: give us your and your clients’ email addresses

We’ll e-mail you any correspondence to speed up the process. Please make sure the e-mail address you provide is current, legible and spelled correctly.

Tip 2: how to get a 10% discount

If you provide a certificate of design, the fee will be reduced by around 10%. Please make sure you submit the correct fee.

Tip 3: how to get another 3% discount

If you tell us on your application form that you will submit a certificate of construction, you’ll get around a 3% reduction on your fees. You must submit the correct certificate on completion. If you don’t, we won’t accept your submission until we receive the full fee (without the 3% reduction).

Tip 4: stick to the nine month deadline

If you do not provide all the information we need to approve your warrant within nine months of the first technical response, we may refuse it.

Tip 5: completion certification

Make sure you supply all the documents and certificates which we outlined on the guidance when we issued your building warrant.

Tip 6: completion certificates for approved building warrants

Don’t send us completion certificates if your building warrant is not approved – we won’t process them.

Building Standards: Improving our services – what you can do to help

We’re making marked progress with our service improvements – so far, this quarter, our team has issued first reports within 20 working days for 98% of building warrant applications. 70% of building warrants are being granted within 10 days of satisfactory revised information being submitted. Across the city, we’ve also approved £206 million of construction work since the start of 2019.

We’re committed to reducing response and processing times further. But we need your help – here are some simple things that agents and applicants don’t always do – this slows down the time it takes us to process your applications:

Paper plans still needed for approved works?

Following on from your feedback, we will no longer ask you to provide paper plans prior to us granting your electronic building warrant.

However, until we have fully developed our mobile solution, we do still need you to make available paper copies of the approved floor plans, elevations and specification for site inspections. Please make sure you have them ready for our surveyors when they come on site – they may not be able to inspect your works if you don’t.

Three simple things to help us process revised drawings more quickly

We can speed up your revised application if you:

  • provide a covering letter which clarifies your answer to each of the comments raised on the building warrant report
  • and highlight and state on the drawings and specification where you have made the amendments
  • when submitting plans online, make sure your drawings/support documents are correctly labelled and uploaded in correct orientation.

CCNP and notifications

We issue construction compliance and notification plans (CCNPs) with all building warrants. These specify stages of construction when you need to notify us to undertake an inspection. Please ensure these are made available to the contractor.

Building Standards – New futures

We’re committed to investing in people as is key to developing the building standards services which serves our great city. You might have noticed a few changes in our team in recent months.

In our recruitment drive, we promoted Daniel Henderson to team manager for the south-east team and welcomed three new assistant building surveyors – Audrey Vass, Daniel Peart and Stuart Young.

Our apprentices recently visited a site with Senior Surveyor Douglas Collins, who has now retired, where they met Steven McGuire from CALA Homes.

We’re also proud that, for the first time ever, we’ve given three young people the opportunity to start a great career as building standards surveyors through our new apprentice posts. Working in partnership with Heriot Watt University, Jessica Morris, Rebekah Mack and Daniel O’Hara will develop core skills at university while working on building warrant applications with our team as well as playing a key part in our service improvements.

Councillor Neil Gardiner, convener of the Council’s planning committee and development sub-committee, explained: “Investing in careers and development of our team underpins our commitment to becoming one of the top performing building standards verification services in Scotland.

“It also demonstrates our commitment to facilitating Edinburgh’s successful economic and infrastructure growth.”

Planning and Building Standards portal – now back online

We're back

You may have already noticed that the planning and building standards portal is now back online.

The upgrade has resulted in a number of improvements for us in-house in how we handle planning and building warrant applications. The upgrade has also resulted in a number of improvements to the public portal, including:

  • Documents can be bulk downloaded
  • Draft comments will be retained after a time out
  • Comments can be spellchecked
  • Social media integration means you can easily share comments and applications via email or Twitter
  • Email addresses are checked to ensure they are valid before registering for the portal
  • Uncommon email domains are now supported – for example, .house
  • You will be able to track notifications of map searches
  • New links to ePlanning and eBuildingStandards are included for the submission of applications

In terms of how customers submit planning and building warrants, improvements include:

  • A ‘Client to Pay’ option for ePlanning and eBuildingstandards means agents can submit the application form without payment, and their client will receive an email with the eDevelopment reference number and telephone details for them to make the payment
  • For Building Standards, drawing numbers, revision numbers and document descriptions will be uploaded into our system as input by the agent/customer

Planning applications effected by the downtime will have additional time added to allow for public comments. For users who wish to check the expiry date for public comments on an application, this can be viewed in the “Important Dates” tab.

Whilst much of the upgrade was about providing greater stability in our systems and improving how we manage planning and building standards applications, we hope that you find the ‘user experience’ has been greatly improved in the process.