Last week we received our 10,000 on-line application. Whilst this gave us cause for great celebration (we opened a packet of chocolate biscuits – as only planners would) it is a significant milestone. The submission of applications electronically is something we have been encouraging for a number of years as this benefits both us and our customers in how we handle their application.
Last year, the Scottish Government set out the savings people make by submitting on-line. In general applicants save £200 on average with planning authorities saving £50 on average per application. This not only means savings to us and our customers but it is also good for the environment by reducing the amount of printing, copying and packaging.
Submitting applications on-line is one part of ensuring our customers have greater access to planning information. This includes allowing you to view and comment on applications on-line and read key documents such as the Local Development Plan and planning guidance. This is all supported by increased access to the internet through computers and free wi fi in Council buildings, libraries and neighbourhood offices. In time, we will see the regular Development Management Sub-Committees and Planning Committees webcast when you can watch all the action from the comfort of your armchair or on the bus.
For those of you with a keen eye, you may have noticed that the ‘Celebrating World Heritage’ flag is flying from the City Chambers on the Royal Mile for the second year running.
Friday 18 April is World Heritage Day. It is celebrated around the globe to help raise the profile of World Heritage Sites and make people aware of our diverse cultural and natural heritage and how these sites are of outstanding value.
‘Shared Heritage’ is this year’s theme in Edinburgh and an event was held at the Royal College of Physicians last night which looked at the benefits that World Heritage can bring to everyone. The speakers were Sue Bruce, Chief Executive of the City of Edinburgh Council, and Lloyd Anderson, Director of the British Council Scotland. The event was a great opportunity to hear the Chief Executive’s thoughts on how we manage the challenges as a World Heritage city and was followed by a lively question and answer session.
This week (from 1 April) the High Hedges (Scotland) Act 2013 came into effect to help resolve issues with high hedges which are having a negative impact on domestic properties.
Where neighbours are unable to resolve the issue of a high hedge, this new legislation gives homeowners and occupiers a right to apply to us for a high hedge notice. The Council will act as an independent and impartial adjudicator, considering the position of each party, before making a decision.
The intention is that the new law will resolve problems caused by hedges (hedges which are over two metres tall and block out light) and allows us to enforce decisions taken. You can find more about the new legislation and how to make an application for a high hedges notice including the relevant fees on our website.
Last week we had the pleasure of a visit from Cath Ranson RTPI President to Edinburgh. Cath joined us at the Edinburgh Urban Design Panel followed by a visit to the Royal Mile to find out about the Royal Mile Project and new development in the area. We completed the afternoon with a meeting in the Urban Room where Cath took in a number of projects including our evolving 100 years of Planning Edinburgh exhibition and found out more about the work we have been doing on the Planning Concordat and processing agreements. The visit was part of the RTPI Centenary Year which includes a number of RTPI Scotland events.