Customer Update – Help us to help you

We are continuing to experience a record level of applications since our last Customer Update a few weeks ago. Whilst this is positive for the City, it is a particularly challenging time for the service as it is coinciding with reduced resources.

To manage the workload effectively, a new system has been put in place where new applications are being put in a holding system until a case officer becomes available. This approach will ensure that workloads are manageable for case officers.

We will be dealing with applications in chronological order and once assigned, the case officer will only contact you if:

1) additional information is required to assess the application;

2) amendments are needed to your proposals; or

3) your application is likely to be refused.

We remain committed to providing good customer care for each application but inevitably, it is going to take longer than normal to process applications. Because we are concentrating on determining applications as quickly as possible, there will be an impact on other aspects of our work such as responding to queries.

Help us to help you:

It would help significantly if you could provide the following information at the time of application submission (or whilst it is hold):

  • 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)

Before applying please read our planning guidelines – these answer a lot of commonly asked questions, including for;

Your patience and understanding is appreciated. We will get there but it is going to take longer.

Customer Update – Applications

In the last few months we have been experiencing a record level of incoming applications – the highest for at least two years.  This is positive for the city and its residents and businesses, and we’re proud that in this period we’ve also been able to determine a record number of applications and keep average decision times down.  

As a service it is a particularly challenging time and we are looking at existing resources and new processes to help us manage this high level of caseload.

We remain committed to providing good customer care for each application but inevitably, it is going to take a bit longer than normal to process applications. Because we are concentrating on determining applications as quickly as possible, there will be an impact on other aspects of our work such as responding to queries.

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

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

Help us to help you:

It would help significantly if you could provide the following information at the time of application 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)

Watch this space for further updates coming out of the recent Customer Forum sessions and thank you for your help as we support the city’s recovery.

You can keep up to date with Planning Edinburgh by:

Non-Material Variation Service

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new Non-Material Variation Service.

As previously mentioned on the Planning Edinburgh blog a few weeks ago, this is part of our wider efforts to improve customer service and consistency across the service.

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

Starting from 1 April 2021, we have introduced a new and streamlined way to apply for NMVs, with a new formalised Application Form and Customer Guidance for applying. It will allow us to process NMVs in a more efficient way.

NMV applications will now also be subject to a charge based on the scale of your development.

Developments which are primarily related to improving accessibility for people with disabilities are exempt.

What is a Non-Material Variation?

NMVs are permitted under Section 64 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997, which makes provision for the variation of planning permission once it has been granted, provided the changes are not material.

A non-material variation essentially means that the proposed changes to a development will not significantly alter the scheme that was originally granted planning permission.

When considering a request for a non-material variation, planning officers will consider the cumulative impact of the proposed change alongside any other requests for non-material variations that have been made previously.

What permissions does a NMV relate to?

A non-material variation can only relate to a planning permission that has been granted. It is tied to the original planning permission and is not a new consent.

It is also important that you check and confirm any changes with Building Standards to ensure that any variations proposed in your NMV application still comply with the relevant Building Regulations.

How do you apply for a NMV?

All applications for non-material variations should be made using the application form on our website: www.edinburgh.gov.uk/nonmaterialvariations

The application form and supporting drawings should be submitted by email to nonmaterialvariations@edinburgh.gov.uk

Payments should be made online on our new NMV Payment Page – please note that we cannot accept payments over the phone or by cheque.

If an application for a NMV is successful, we will agree the variation in writing and a copy of the decision letter will be added to the planning portal. The drawings will then constitute the approved drawings for your planning permission. The original permission remains in effect but must be read in conjunction with the variations agreed under the NMV application.

If you have any questions, get in touch via nonmaterialvariations@edinburgh.gov.uk

Changes Coming Soon to Planning

As part of our efforts to improve our service and adapt for the future, there are two changes to the Planning Service coming soon:

Pre-Application Advice Service

At its meeting in February 2021, Planning Committee approved minor changes to our Pre-Application Advice Service.

It was recognised that the service is working well since it was introduced in 2019, but experience has highlighted the need for an additional option for a site visit for local developments. This will be available from 1 April 2021.

The Planning Committee also agreed a 5% increase in all Pre-Application Advice Service charges received on or after 1 April 2021, in line with the Council’s budget projections for 2021/2022.

Non-Material Variation Applications

At its meeting in February 2021, Planning Committee also agreed to additional discretionary charges for the processing of Non-Material Variation applications.

This will improve customer service and consistency across the service.

Details regarding procedures are being finalised in advance going live on 1 April 2021, but it is anticipated that Non-Material Variation applications will be required to be submitted using a standardised form, accompanied by the relevant drawings and the appropriate fee.  

This process will only apply to granted planning applications and will not be applicable to Listed Building Consents, Conservation Area Consents or Advert Consents.

Full details can be found in the Planning Committee report. Further communications regarding both of these matters will be published in advance of the changes commencing on 1 April 2021.

Weekly List Interactive Map

We have written previously about the need to publicise applications and decisions made online, due to Covid -19 restrictions preventing us from using our usual way of advertising.

We have already been publishing our weekly lists online here, but we are now trialling a new tool to show this weekly list of new applications and decisions in the form of an interactive GIS map. We hope this will be a way to view the list of applications in a way that gives a better, user-friendly and visually interesting overview.

Using the Map

Click here to go to the Weekly List Map, and the screen should show a map of the city as below:

screen1

The map shows all application and decisions advertised in the weekly list, with red dots showing where new applications have been made and blue dots showing where we have made a decision. You can use the ‘find address or place’ bar to go to a valid location or address when typed in.

If you zoom into the map, further detail is provided and the dots become shapes which show the boundary of each application:

screen2

Clicking on each dot or shape, and then on the arrow that pops up will show more detail about each application including a link to the application page on the planning portal:

screen3

This map will be updated weekly along with the weekly list. It will be trialled initially for six weeks to see how well it is used and how useful people find it. Please let us know your thoughts on this new tool by leaving a comment here on the blog, or sending an email to Planning.ServiceDelivery@edinburgh.gov.uk with your comments.