Since our last update, there have been a couple of developments at the national level:
A letter from planning minister Kevin Stewart MSP and the Scottish Government Chief Planner was published on 3 April. The letter highlights the important role that planning has within and beyond the current emergency, and sets out some temporary measures to help the planning system continue to function during this period.
The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act came into being, when the Bill received Royal Assent on 6 April. Our previous update highlights the key points for planning.
We are now working to put into practice several changes which arise from these measures. We will provide an update on what this means for our service soon. In the meantime, we are still able to receive and work on applications, taking account of the measures we announced in late March. Our website provides details of our current service.
If you haven’t done so already, please sign up by email to be notified as soon as we publish new blogs. This is the main place we will be providing updates as we review our service on a regular basis.
Staff in the Planning and Building Standards service are currently working from the office and home as appropriate and will continue to progress applications, warrants and enforcement cases. However, working practices will need to be adapted due to the current COVID -19 situation.
There will be no attendance at events and only essential external and internal meetings are taking place. Site visits are under review, and the reliance on other businesses to publish adverts and deliver neighbour notifications could impact on the service. We are working to find solutions should this become an issue.
We also expect our capacity to be impacted due to staff shortages so please bear with us. The teams will be doing their best to keep applications and warrants moving under the circumstances. To assist in this, we have made the following changes:
The Pre-application service will continue to provide written responses, but in accordance with Government advice no face to face meetings will take place.
Further information is available here. We will keep these and other changes under review, and keep you up to date as our service adapts.
In terms of official Council committee business, the recess period will begin from Friday 20 March and will last until 27 April. All committees are suspended during this period. The Local Review Body meeting scheduled for 25 March will take place, but members of the public are encouraged not to attend to minimise the risk of spreading the virus. We are currently exploring alternative ways of working to maintain as much of the service as possible.
The response to the current situation is evolving rapidly and we will endeavour to update information as the situation changes, whilst ensuring the welfare of staff and trying to maintain business continuity for our customers. You can see how you can help the Council to protect the city’s most vulnerable citizens and how we are aiming to provide core services here.
UPDATE 19 March 2020 – In addition to the above, we have taken the decision to suspend our Pre-Application Service to allow us to concentrate our efforts on processing and determining current applications and enforcement cases. We apologise for the inconvenience this may cause, but with a depleted staff and a focus on ensuring front line services are maintained, this has been a necessity.
On 30 July, we submitted our latest Planning Performance Framework (PPF) to the Scottish Government. It includes an account of the work done by the Planning Service from April 2018 to March 2019 to improve performance and deliver a high quality planning service and case studies structured around four headings – Outcomes, Service and Engagement, Governance and Continuous Improvement. It also includes statistical information on our performance.
The PPF is used by the Scottish Government to assess the performance of all planning authorities against a standard set of performance markers. You can view the Planning Performance Framework 2018 -2019 on our website.
As part of ongoing customer improvements within Building Standards, we have begun a programme of one-to-one sessions with developers to discuss issues in detail. Newsletters are also being sent out every three months to provide updates and a Stakeholder Panel has been set up to feed ideas for ongoing improvements back into the service.
We are currently reviewing how we carry out Site Inspections. We will be talking with developers to get views and ideas on proposed changes.
The Planning and Building Standards Customer Forum is held every year and provides the opportunity for customers and Council officers to get together to discuss current issues.
This year’s forum will take place on Tuesday 10 September from 2pm – 4pm in the Main Council Chambers.
For those of you who haven’t attended before, this event takes the form of presentations and group discussions. We hope a wide range of customers will attend the forum to hear about the changes and improvements put in place in the past year, share views on the service we provide and discuss the ways in which we provide information to customers.
If you would like to come along to the forum, please email email@example.com with your details as soon as possible and by 3 September at the latest. Please indicate in your response which customer type best describes you:
Community Council or Group
Building Standards Applicant/Agent
Other – please specify
We have space for up to 100 attendees and tea/coffee will be provided. We look forward to seeing you there.
Tip 1: give us your and your clients’ email addresses
We’ll e-mail you any correspondence to speed up the process. Please make sure the e-mail address you provide is current, legible and spelled correctly.
Tip 2: how to get a 10% discount
If you provide a certificate of design, the fee will be reduced by around 10%. Please make sure you submit the correct fee.
Tip 3: how to get another 3% discount
If you tell us on your application form that you will submit a certificate of construction, you’ll get around a 3% reduction on your fees. You must submit the correct certificate on completion. If you don’t, we won’t accept your submission until we receive the full fee (without the 3% reduction).
Tip 4: stick to the nine month deadline
If you do not provide all the information we need to approve your warrant within nine months of the first technical response, we may refuse it.
Tip 5: completion certification
Make sure you supply all the documents and certificates which we outlined on the guidance when we issued your building warrant.
Tip 6: completion certificates for approved building warrants
Don’t send us completion certificates if your building warrant is not approved – we won’t process them.
We’re making marked progress with our service improvements – so far, this quarter, our team has issued first reports within 20 working days for 98% of building warrant applications. 70% of building warrants are being granted within 10 days of satisfactory revised information being submitted. Across the city, we’ve also approved £206 million of construction work since the start of 2019.
We’re committed to reducing response and processing times further. But we need your help – here are some simple things that agents and applicants don’t always do – this slows down the time it takes us to process your applications:
Paper plans still needed for approved works?
Following on from your feedback, we will no longer ask you to provide paper plans prior to us granting your electronic building warrant.
However, until we have fully developed our mobile solution, we do still need you to make available paper copies of the approved floor plans, elevations and specification for site inspections. Please make sure you have them ready for our surveyors when they come on site – they may not be able to inspect your works if you don’t.
Three simple things to help us process revised drawings more quickly
We can speed up your revised application if you:
provide a covering letter which clarifies your answer to each of the comments raised on the building warrant report
and highlight and state on the drawings and specification where you have made the amendments
when submitting plans online, make sure your drawings/support documents are correctly labelled and uploaded in correct orientation.
CCNP and notifications
We issue construction compliance and notification plans (CCNPs) with all building warrants. These specify stages of construction when you need to notify us to undertake an inspection. Please ensure these are made available to the contractor.
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