Planning Customer Forum Virtual Sessions

We will be holding another series of Customer Forum virtual sessions this October & November and so thought we’d share some of discussions we had and feedback we received back in March. 

The sessions in March were our first ever Customer Forum sessions held online as they were previously held in person.

We have all had to adapt to new ways of working since Covid and so the sessions were an opportunity for customers and Council officers to come together to share how we have all adapted to the challenges and to discuss how we can change how we work together in the future.

Back in March of this year we discussed matters like:

COMMUNITY GROUPS

  • How community groups find digital engagement
  • How a largely digital-based approach to Planning engagement could be developed
  • Our webpages and how they could be improved
  • How community groups use social media

HOUSEHOLDER APPLICANTS & AGENTS

  • Application submission matters and our validation guidance
  • How site visits were being affected by Covid and the need for additional information to fully assess applications
  • Certificate’s of Lawfulness vs Planning Permission
  • Permitted development rights and associated guidance
  • How Covid has affected the way we communicate

MAJOR/ LARGE APPLICANTS, AGENTS, SOLICITORS & ARCHITECTS

Come along to one of the October or November sessions via Microsoft Teams and tell us what you think:

Tuesday 12 October 1500-1630 – Community groups

Thursday 28 October 1500-1630 – Householder and small-scale local development applicants and agents

Tuesday 9 November 1500-1630 – Legal agreements, with solicitors and major/larger local applicants and agents

If you or a colleague/ group member would like to attend a forum session, please email planning.servicedelivery@edinburgh.gov.uk with your details.

Please state what company/organisation you will be representing & which session you would like to attend, and we’ll contact attendees with joining instructions for the online meeting closer to the time.

We hope you can join us and help improve the Planning service for the benefit of its customers and the city.

Planning Performance Framework 2020-2021

In July 2021 we submitted our tenth annual Planning Performance Framework to the Scottish Government. PPF 2020-2021 evaluates the activity and performance of the Council’s Planning service between April 2020 and March 2021 .The Planning Performance Framework (PPF) was introduced in 2012 by planning authorities and was developed by Heads of Planning (HOPs) in collaboration with the Scottish Government.

The framework aims to showcase the performance of the planning service and share examples of best practice .  The onset of the pandemic in March/April 2020 represented a unique and significant challenge for the service which required an innovative and dynamic approach. The framework reviews the way in which the service adopted several new working practices to meet this challenge. Other indicators within the framework include assessing quality of outcomes on the ground, quality of service and engagement, governance arrangements & embedding a culture of continuous improvement.

New Waverley development

Several case studies are discussed, including: New Waverley and St James Centre; online customer forums; coordinated advice for businesses; Leith Walk/Halmyre Street Place Brief; online committees; paid for Non-Material Variation Service; Conservation Area Reviews; City Mobility Plan; and the Vision for Water Management.

Quality of service and engagement- There has been a general improvement in decision times across the service even though we have been receiving high volumes of planning applications (see Time Performance Review blog)

In 2020/21 the service was tested like never before. It has proven to be remarkably resilient and, thanks to the hard work and professionalism of our staff, the people of Edinburgh continued to receive a quality planning service, committed to continual improvement and accessible to all.

Edinburgh’s Proposed Low Emission Zone: CONSULTATION CLOSING SOON

This week is the last week to take part in our consultation on Edinburgh’s Proposed Low Emission Zone.

Low Emission Zones (LEZs) aim to reduce air pollution, since it presents a significant threat to public health. It is especially harmful to young children, the elderly and those suffering from pre-existing conditions, including heart and lung diseases.

They are being introduced across Scotland’s four largest cities: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee in response to dangerous levels of air pollution generated by road traffic.

Low Emission Zones (LEZ) improve public health by discouraging the most polluting vehicles from entering an area.

Benefits of this Zone will extend beyond the city centre by improving air quality, encouraging more sustainable travel and supporting the reduction of greenhouse gases across the city.

The LEZ is planned to start the LEZ on 31st May 2022, however enforcement would not begin until 1st June 2024 – a ‘grace period’ of 2 years, which aims to help individuals and organisations to get ready.

Some exemptions will apply to the LEZ rules for example, disabled persons (including blue badge holders), historic vehicles and emergency vehicles as well as others outlined in the ‘Proposal to Make a LEZ’ document.

Why we are consulting

We are seeking views on the following proposed aspects of the Edinburgh LEZ:

  • city centre zone boundary
  • 2 -year grace period
  • local exemptions and considerations for impacted groups

We are also seeking to understand knowledge of LEZs and whether LEZ related support funds and those available for other sustainable transport options.

The consultation period has been running since the 28th June 2021 and is closing on 20th September 2021.

Responses, comments or feedback can also be emailed to: low.emission.zone@edinburgh.gov.uk

or posted to: Low Emission Zone, Waverley Court G3, East Market Street, Edinburgh, EH8 8BG

Depending on the volume of feedback received, it is hoped that a final LEZ scheme can be formally published towards the end of 2021 and agreed by the Council and Scottish Ministers early in 2022 before it is implemented in May 2022.

The Proposed Low Emission Zone will align with the Councils;

Take part in our consultation on Edinburgh’s Proposed Low Emission Zone.

Edinburgh’s Proposed Designation of a Short-Term Let Control Area Consultation

This week sees the opening of the consultation on a Short-Term Let Control Area for Edinburgh.

Legislation introduced in April 2021 allows a local authority, subject to the approval of Scottish Government, to designate all or part of their area as a short-term let control area. 

A control area is a legal designation.  In a control area a property owner who is letting out a residential property (which is not their principal home) on a short-term let basis would have to apply for ‘change of use’ approval through the planning application process.

Short-term lets of private rooms or shared rooms where the property is the only or principal home of the host will not be affected by the control area requirement. This allows for house swaps at holidays and also for the host to let out the entire property when they are on holiday or working away, provided the property remains their only or principal home.

It is proposed that the entire Council area is designated as a Short-Term Let Control Area.  

There are a significant number of short-term lets in Edinburgh.  In the period 2016-2019 there was a substantial rise in the number of both entire properties and rooms registered with Airbnb.  In 2019, 31% of all Airbnb listings in Scotland were in the city of Edinburgh.  

Short-term lets can provide additional accommodation during important times of the year however there are many associated impacts which have been identified nationally, including the supply and affordability of housing and disruption to local communities and to neighbours. 

In the absence of a Control Area use of a dwelling for short-term let only requires planning permission if on assessment of the material circumstances it is considered a change of use has occurred.  Therefore, currently the use of many dwellings as short-term lets falls out with planning control.

A control area for Edinburgh, that establishes the need for planning permission for short-terms lets, would help manage high concentrations of short-term letting, control short-term letting in types of buildings where it is not appropriate and help ensure homes are used to best effect. 

Details of the proposed designation are available on our Planning Web page.   

Why we are consulting

Responses will be used to inform the decision on taking forward a Short-Term Let Control Area for formal designation. 

The consultation period is open for 9 weeks, from the 3rd September 2021 until 5th November 2021.

We would welcome views via our consultation hub

To keep up to date with the Short-Term Lets Control Area;

Reminder: Non-Material Variation Service

Back in April, we launched our new Non-Material Variation Service. This is part of our wider efforts to improve customer service and consistency across planning.

A Non-Material Variation (NMV) application is a proposal to change an approved development that will not significantly alter what was granted planning permission.

We have introduced a new and streamlined way to apply for NMVs, and a new formalised Application Form and Customer Guidance for applying.

We have received almost 90 NMV applications since April & with this new service have been able to process them in a more efficient way.

NMV applications can also be paid for easily at any time using our secure online payment form on our website.

Please do not contact individual case officers with regards to NMVs as all queries and requests are being managed through the new process.

For further details, see this section of the planning web pages:

www.edinburgh.gov.uk/nonmaterialvariations