Planning and Building Standards Service COVID -19 Update (19 March 2020 edit)

Staff in the Planning and Building Standards service are currently working from the office and home as appropriate and will continue to progress applications, warrants and enforcement cases. However, working practices will need to be adapted due to the current COVID -19 situation.

There will be no attendance at events and only essential external and internal meetings are taking place. Site visits are under review, and the reliance on other businesses to publish adverts and deliver neighbour notifications could impact on the service. We are working to find solutions should this become an issue.

We also expect our capacity to be impacted due to staff shortages so please bear with us.  The teams will be doing their best to keep applications and warrants moving under the circumstances. To assist in this, we have made the following changes:

Further information is available here.  We will keep these and other changes under review, and keep you up to date as our service adapts.

In terms of official Council committee business, the recess period will begin from Friday 20 March and will last until 27 April. All committees are suspended during this period. The Local Review Body meeting scheduled for 25 March will take place, but members of the public are encouraged not to attend to minimise the risk of spreading the virus. We are currently exploring alternative ways of working to maintain as much of the service as possible.

The response to the current situation is evolving rapidly and we will endeavour to update information as the situation changes, whilst ensuring the welfare of staff and trying to maintain business continuity for our customers.  You can see how you can help the Council to protect the city’s most vulnerable citizens and how we are aiming to provide core services here.

UPDATE 19 March 2020 – In addition to the above, we have taken the decision to suspend our Pre-Application Service to allow us to concentrate our efforts on processing and determining current applications and enforcement cases. We apologise for the inconvenience this may cause, but with a depleted staff and a focus on ensuring front line services are maintained, this has been a necessity.

The Planning & Building Standards Customer Forum 2019

The third annual Planning & Building Standards Customer Forum took place last week in the Council Chambers. A wide range of customers including community councillors, planning and building agents, architects, developers and community groups took part in group discussions to provide us with valuable feedback on our services.

In the last year, there have been many changes and improvements across both Planning and Building Standards including a major ICT system upgrade and the introduction of a new Planning Pre-application Advice Service. We have been busy implementing two Improvement Plans, one for Planning and one for Building Standards, both making progress across three themes:

  • Leadership and management
  • Customer
  • Continuous improvement and performance

We are always trying to improve our customer service and looking for new ways of working to do things better.

The ways in which we share information was of particular interest to us this year. We communicate with our customers in a number of ways:

  • Via the Planning & Building Standards Helpdesk, which can be accessed in person at Waverley Court, over the phone on 0131 529 3550 or by emailing planning@edinburgh.gov.uk
  • The Planning & Building Standards Portal which enables anybody to view planning applications and building warrants online whenever they want to
  • Our website has a large amount of guidance for a wide range of different planning and building matters
  • The City Plan 2030 project regularly publishes newsletter & holds workshops
  • The Building Standards Newsletter
  • Community council training events
  • Development and Civic Forums
  • Committee Webcasts
  • On Twitter @planningedin
  • And via this blog – planningedinburgh.com

There was also an update on City Plan 2030. The main consultation stage for City Plan 2030 – ‘Choices for City Plan 2030’ is planed to start in December and we are currently arranging the details of our engagement events. You can find out more about the timetable and how we will be preparing City Plan 2030 in our new Development Plan Scheme. You can keep up to date with the City Plan 2030 project on this blog or contact us or subscribe to our newsletter by emailing cityplan2030@edinburgh.gov.uk.

Planning and Building Standards Customer Forum is held every year, providing the opportunity for customers and Council officers to get together to discuss our services. If you are interested in attending next year’s Forum, or wish to provide us with your feedback regarding any of the above, please get in touch via planning@edinburgh.gov.uk.

Thank you again to all who came along, and we look forward to welcoming you to our next Customer Forum in 2020.

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.