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.

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

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