Help us to help you

The Planning service is as busy as ever with large number of planning applications and enforcement queries coming through the door. Key projects are continuing to progress including City Plan 2030 and the Low Emissions Zone. At the same time, we have a continuous programme of improvement to address changes such as the new planning fees and to ensure our processes are as efficient and robust as possible.

We are pleased that a number of new assistant planners have been recruited and they will be joining us over the next few months. We are also recruiting for a new planning officer.

Whilst there is much positive news, we do recognise that planning applications are taking longer to assess and determine than we would like, and we are not always meeting our statutory timescales. We know we need to do better. We are looking at a number of measures to address the backlog.

If you have recently submitted or about to submit an application, please pay particular attention to your acknowledgement letter at this time.

Photographs & relevant contextual plans

It would help significantly if you could provide the following information at the time of application submission or upload as additional information post submission:

  • Photographs showing the location of the work and the wider context (including interiors for listed building consent applications)
  • Dimensions on the plans
  • Contextual information i.e. neighbouring windows/ extensions (if relevant)
  • 45 degree daylighting calculations (if relevant)

Please be patient and understanding – we will get there but it is going to take a little longer.

Scottish Planning Fees Change 1 April 2022

Fees for planning applications set by the Scottish Government change today for almost all application types.

This means everything submitted to us from today onwards is affected, including:

  • ‘full’ planning permission
  • planning permission in principle
  • certificates of lawfulness
  • advertisement consent

Amongst the changes, standard ‘householder’ fees increase from £202 to £300, whilst the standard fee for construction of a new dwelling increases from £401 to £600.

Details of the changes are set out by The Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications) (Scotland) Regulations 2022.

Using the ePlanning.scot Fee Calculator is the easiest way to calculate a fee, and can be used without having to log in or to submit an application.

Once you know your correct fee, paying is also easy, and can be done whilst submitting your application on ePlanning.scot.

For those applicants or agents who need to make an additional payment, or for applicants who may wish to pay after their agent has submitted, you can also pay for your planning application online using this link (for a quick guide to using this payment system, have a look at this blog post from November 2020.)

In addition, fees for pre-application advice are changing on 1 April – details can be found here.

Some other fees related to Planning & Building Standards change today, including;

Applying to do work to protected trees

Edinburgh has a significant number of protected trees with approximately 180 Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) in place (these include individual trees and groups of trees), and 50 conservation areas. Permission is required to do work to a tree protected by a TPO or a tree within a conservation area.

As a result, we receive large numbers of tree applications, with over 1000 applications submitted last year. To help us deal better with the volume and complexity of these cases we have made a number of improvements, including increasing resources, changing how we validate (check in) tree applications and updating our online information.

RESOURCES

In terms of the team, we have secured some additional resources on a temporary basis which will help us manage the large number of tree applications we are receiving.  We hope this will see continued improvement on the time we take to handle applications and reduce the backlog.

WHAT IS CHANGING?

All tree applications will now be validated by dedicated tree technicians who will review the content of submissions before allocating it to a tree officer.

This means that the tree officers will have all the information they require to assess the application. It will reduce the amount of time that is spent requesting further information so they can concentrate on assessing the applications and hopefully speed up the process.

Will be asking those who make applications for works to trees to:

  • Make sure they apply for the right consent and tick the right box on the ePlanning form i.e. conservation area or TPO.
  • Give the right address for where the tree is actually located (and not just the address of the client)
  • Provide photos of the tree/s and its context
  • Give a detailed description of the works based on BS3998:2010

Applications will no longer be validated unless they have all the information necessary for us to assess it.  We will require the information to be submitted within 14 days, otherwise the application will be returned to the applicant or agent undetermined.  Doing work to a protected tree without permission would be a criminal offence.

ONLINE GUIDANCE ON HOW TO APPLY FOR WORKS TO TREES

At the start of the year we renewed our Planning Trees webpages and updated our guidance on doing works to trees: www.edinburgh.gov.uk/privatelyownedtrees

We have also produced a ‘quick guide’ on applying for work to trees which sets out how to check for protected trees and has a summary of what is required as part of the ePlanning submission.  

CUSTOMER FORUM

We will continue to review the new process and in due course we will be holding a customer forum for agents who make tree applications to get their feedback.

In the meantime, thank you for your patience as we put these changes in place.

We’re Hiring!

We’re recruiting five Assistant Planners to work with us in the Edinburgh planning service.

Edinburgh is Scotland’s busiest planning authority, handling over 3,000 applications a year in a city with internationally-valued built and natural heritage. We have ambitious plans to realise Edinburgh’s vision of a fair, welcoming, pioneering and thriving city.

So, if you’re looking for an opportunity to get involved in a range of planning projects and processes, develop your knowledge and skills, and of course, work with a great bunch of people, then you can apply here. The closing date is 24 February 2022.

As an Assistant Planning Officer, you will be responsible for handling a varied and challenging range and volume of planning and enforcement cases and for contributing to projects and change within the service.

As part of our agile, multidisciplinary workforce you will gain skills enabling you to work in different teams and operational areas in the Planning service. The advertised posts are based in our fast-paced, high-volume teams dealing with:

  • Householder developments
  • Enforcement
  • Smaller-scale local developments and listed buildings.

In this short video some of the team share what it’s like to work here:

In an earlier post from 2019, one of our previous assistant planners blogged about their experience of the job and how it helped them to achieve chartered membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

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.