Planning and Building Standards Service COVID -19 Update (4 May 2020)

The Planning Service is continuing to adapt the way it works to support communities and businesses in this difficult time. We are pleased to announce that from Monday 4 May 2020 we are re-starting our pre-application advice service.

Pre-Application Advice Service

We want to ensure the planning system plays its part in assisting with a swift recovery for the city and we see our very successful pre-application advice service as an important part of the measures we are taking forward. However, it is important to recognise that we are working in a new and very different environment with officers working from home and site visits on hold. The service people will receive will still aim to be as helpful as possible but there will be some limitations:

  • When you submit your pre-application request, we will assess whether it is reasonable to deliver advice on the project from a home based environment. If the request includes a listed building for instance, we may be unable to advise without a site visit. We would therefore have to put that request on hold until we are able to resume site visits.
  • Where necessary, meetings with relevant officers will be arranged but they will be via Skype or Microsoft Teams so it is important you have that software to be able to engage in video conferencing.
  • Finally, we will be unable to take telephone payments so BACS transfer will be the only way you can pay for the pre-application advice. Details can be found in our Customer Service Guide

Requests for advice should be sent to preapplicationadvice@edinburgh.gov.uk using the request form.

Developer Pre-Application Consultations

Separately, the Scottish Government has provided planning guidance on pre-application consultations for public events. This is temporary guidance, linked to the regulations that came into force on 24 April 2020 and suspends the requirement for a physical public event at this time. Prospective applicants are expected to replace this requirement with alternative consultation measures instead, using web based approaches.

We will continue to provide service updates on the Planning Edinburgh blog. Please sign up by email to register for updates as soon as they are posted.

Planning and Building Standards Service COVID -19 Update (29 April 2020)

Following on from our last update, we have a number of further service changes as we continue to adapt the planning service to the COVID -19 situation.

Site Notices and Weekly List

We have now begun the online publication of applications, following the restrictions on physically displaying site notices. We will display the planning application Weekly Lists and all Site Notices weekly on a new page on the website, and this will be updated every week.

Development Management Sub-Committee

The Leadership Advisory Panel has agreed to reinstate the Development Management Sub-Committee. We are working on how to do this through video conferencing, with the aim to hold the first reinstated Development Management Sub-committee on 20 May 2020.

Local Review Body

Following the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 coming into force, the Regulations affecting Planning have been amended. This includes the Regulations governing the Local Review Body (LRB), which as of 24 April 2020, for a temporary period, is no longer required to take place in public. Once the Development Management Sub-Committee has been established it is hoped to roll this format out for the Local Review Body.

We are still accepting online Review submissions. Please note that, as staff are homeworking, we cannot accept paper copies of Reviews, supporting documents or representations at this current time. Scottish Government has not given any powers to extend the period for submission of appeals, so if you intend to submit a Review please ensure it is within time.

For further information regarding appeals submitted to Scottish Government visit the DPEA website.

City Plan 2030 and City Mobility Plan

Finally, we are still receiving submissions on Choices for City Plan 2030 and the City Mobility Plan until 5pm tomorrow, to allow people to give their views on two important plans that will shape how we live and work in the city in future.

Please submit your comments through the consultation hub by 30 April 2020 at 5pm.

Please look out for further service updates in the coming weeks, including on our pre-application advice service. Subscribe to the blog by email to receive immediate updates.

Planning and Building Standards Service COVID -19 Update (23 April 2020)

We are adapting our service so that we can support communities and businesses across Edinburgh through this difficult time. Our aim is to boost online public input to planning processes so that we can make and issue decisions which will both help with a swift recovery and a positive future for the city.  

To do this we have introduced ways for people to stay informed and comment on planning proposals despite the coronavirus lockdown.

We are now:

  • Starting our publication of applications that we have received since the lockdown commenced in March.
  • Issuing neighbour notification letters by post, with the planning portal open for comments to be made on applications.

Due to the closure of our offices we are still unable to receive any paper applications or letters of representation. Online applications are being accepted/validated, online representations are being accepted and, where appropriate, delegated decisions are being issued.

We are able to do this following the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act, which alters how we can publicise the applications we have received.

Paragraph 9(2) of Schedule 6, Part 3 of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 makes provision for us not to physically publish weekly lists of planning and related applications and make these available for inspection at our principal office and public libraries or physically post site notices for all planning and related applications on the basis that doing so:

  • May give rise to a significant risk of the transmission of coronavirus, or
  • is likely to be ineffective or inappropriate due to action taken in order to control the incidence or transmission of coronavirus.

Instead we will make copies of these documents available on the Council’s Planning and Building Standards on-line services, in accordance with paragraph 9 (3) of Schedule 6, Part 3 to the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020. This process will start with the weekly list of 27 April 2020.

Further information on our services during the coronavirus lockdown is available on the Council website.

Please sign up to the Planning Edinburgh blog to keep up to date with changes to our service and how we are planning for the future Edinburgh through City Plan 2030 and the City Mobility Plan. 

Planning and Building Standards Service COVID -19 Update (9 April 2020)

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.

 

Planning and Building Standards Service COVID -19 Update (2 April 2020)

You may be aware the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill will be shortly become an Act, and has further implications for our planning service and others.

  • One key change is that planning permission that would otherwise lapse in the next 6 months will be extended by 1 year to allow work to start on permissions once restrictions are lifted.
  • The Bill removes the duty requiring public authorities to physically publish or publicise documents or make documents available for physical inspection (libraries, council offices, etc) where it is considered that in doing so it may give rise to a significant risk of transmission of coronavirus. It is anticipated that guidance will be issued by the Scottish Government on the implementation of this power shortly.

The Bill itself does not change statutory requirements in relation to site notices or neighbour notification so for now we are still working with the restrictions on determining relevant applications that we set out last week. This is for both general safety and to ensure that any decisions we issue are properly informed by representations and so are legally sound.

Separately, the Council’s Leadership Advisory Panel has met (in its first Skype meeting) and agreed contingency measures relating to the Planning service:

  • These measures make temporary changes to the Council’s Scheme of Delegation to reduce the number of planning applications which will have to be put on hold until Council committee meetings can be held.
  • Most applications are already decided by delegation, but around 200 each year are decided by the Council’s Development Management Sub-Committee.  The temporary measures mean that these cases will be carefully filtered, with input from relevant councillors, so that some can be decided under delegated powers.
  • This is intended to allow at least some applications to still be decided during this period, and so help the resilience of the city and its economy. Details are available in the report to the Panel (agreed with a motion).

We are also looking at ways Development Management Sub-Committee meetings might be able to take place remotely, which would reduce the need for these temporary measures to be used often.

We are still reviewing how we can adapt to the situation on a regular basis.  We are doing so working with the Scottish Government and the other planning authorities in Scotland. We will continue to share this publicly by posting on this blog and using twitter, so we urge people to subscribe here for our updates to be sent directly by email as soon as they are posted.