A new way to pay for Planning Applications & Building Warrants

Over the last 7 months, we have spent time putting systems and strategies in place in order to simplify and improve our services so we can continue to provide an excellent service to the city. Along with a lot of the Council, both the Planning & Building Standards services are currently working from home. We have previously blogged about the challenges this has presented and how as we continue to develop, we look at ways to work effectively in this new, remote environment.

This week marks a milestone in these efforts, as we launch a new & easier way to pay online for Planning Applications & Building Warrants.

Planning Applications must still be submitted using eplanning.scot, and you can still pay via this system when you submit. But 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 now pay for your planning application online

Similarly, Building Warrants must still be submitted using eBuildingStandards.scot, and you can still pay via this system when you submit. However you can now make a payment post submission where the original fee was either incorrect or if you need to extend the period of validity. Make sure you are paying the correct amount by checking the Building Standards Scale of Fees.

The payment system is safe, secure and easy to use, using gov.pay software that you may already be familiar with. It is available 24/7 from anywhere that has internet, including your smart phone.

A step-by-step guide to using it;

Step 1.

You will need the following;

Your Planning Application number (for example, 20/03230/FUL)

Your Scottish Government reference (for example, 100290191-001)

You will also need to select whether you are the applicant, or the agent. The above information will be on any correspondence from us or your agent should provide it.

Step 2.

You will need to enter the address of your planning application. If your application does not yet have a postal address, enter your Site description (for example, “Land 200m to the North of 123 Edinburgh Street” – this will be on any correspondence you have from us). You must enter at least a Street name & Town.

Step 3.

Enter your contact details, and the amount that you need to pay. The amount you need to pay may be on a letter from us, or if you are an applicant, your agent should advise you. You can always refer to our fees list on our website.

Step 4

You will then be taken to the ‘Enter card details’ page where you can securely enter your card details, much like online shopping or other payment pages. We accept Visa or Maestro, and require the usual card details (Card Number, Expiry Date, Name on card, Card Security Code, Billing Address & Contact Details for your receipt.)

Please note – you can pay for Planning applications, Certificates of Lawfulness & Advertisement Consents. For Building Standards you can pay for Building Warrants, Amendments to Building Warrants & Extensions to Building Warrants. At this point we cannot accept online payment for Planning Pre-application advice.

All done!

We will then pick up your payment and process your application from there.    

Follow this blog for further updates as we continue to make service improvements & adapt to challenges and opportunities.

Looking back over Lockdown

Thank-you

We wanted to stop and take a moment to reflect over the past months. I think we can all agree that 2020 hasn’t turned out to be the year that we had envisaged. Covid-19 took the world by storm and as a nation we have had to swiftly adapt to a very different environment.

It has been one of our high priorities to continue to deliver a high-quality planning service to the people of Edinburgh. The planning service is a collaborative effort, we rely on public engagement, stakeholder contribution and of course, our customers, agents and, communities we work with on a daily basis. We wanted to take this opportunity to recognise your input in helping us to achieve a continued effective planning service; primarily your patience, your understanding and, your willingness to work with us during these challenging times. Though most of our work stations now look very different, this has not hindered our shared ability to deliver a service that will help to support the economy of our city and, ultimately improve the quality of life for its residents.

Thank you from all of us.

A Service Update

At this stage, we feel it is important to share our story over the past six months, how the service has performed and, the outcome of our efforts.

From April through to the end of September, we received a total of 2104 applications. Over the same period, we have fully assessed 1908 planning applications. Average determination times continue to improve towards exceeding the Scottish national average. Given the circumstances of which we are working in, we are proud of our performance.

As you will be aware, our offices continue to remain closed and so, the past seven months have been an evolving work in progress, putting systems and strategies in place in order to continue to perform as a service. As we continue to develop, we are looking into how to work effectively in this new, remote environment. At present, we are focussing on how we can implement greater efficiencies into our processes to ensure that we continually improve the service. We are devoted to delivering a service that ensures Edinburgh remains a great city to be enjoyed by all!

Decision making

To further facilitate continued decision making, formal meetings such as the Development Management Sub-Committee, have also had to adapt. Since May, to date, the DM Sub-Committee has met virtually on eleven occasions and worked on through their summer recess period to do so. Committee members embraced a new way of working and consequently, have made 82 decisions over the period which have included several major applications such as, the Wave Garden at the former Craigpark Quarry site.

Once again, we are proud to highlight that as a service, we have been doing our very best to maintain an effective planning service.

Lessons moving forward

Moving forward, we are keen to embrace this new way of working. Given the unlikely return to the ‘old way of working’, we are looking forward to being able to continue to deliver the planning service in collaboration with you.

Reflecting over these past months we have uncovered some new challenges and, lessons have been learned. As a result of Covid-19, three key lessons we have encountered which we now realise have a significant impact on the continued operation of the service:

• Rapid change and adaptation were required in response to lockdown. This ignited a shift in the attitudes towards change in the service. We used to be relatively slow to change established ways of working however, seven months on, change through trialling and embracing innovative ways of delivering an effective service is now our focus.

• We recognise the service would not have been able to continue to operate without embracing new digital ways of working. Internally, we now have a team continually investigating and implementing new digital platforms to help deliver an efficient service.

• Consideration for the well-being of our staff, our consultees, our customers and, our communities. Our appreciation for well-being has adapted as lockdown measures encourage us all to work from home. The Planning Authority’s top priority is well-being and we are dedicated to implementing measures, through our newly established well-being team, to ensure we do what we can to protect our health well-being.

For your information

There have been changes to the Authority’s Scheme of Delegation.

The Scheme of Delegation to Officers sets out the powers delegated by the City of Edinburgh Council to officers, under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and under emergency provisions, the Council’s Leadership Advisory Panel agreed temporary amendments to the Scheme of Delegation on 31 March 2020. These temporary amendments expired on 1 September 2020 and the new Scheme of Delegation comes into force on 1 November 2020.

To conclude

In conclusion, once again we thank-you for your co-operation during this period. None of the achievements mentioned above would have been possible without everyone’s input and willingness to ‘make it work’. We look forward to continuing to work with you in this ‘new normal’ and, striving to deliver an excellent planning service.

Thank you.

Building Standards: Six top tips for your building warrant applications

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.

Building Standards: Improving our services – what you can do to help

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.

Building Standards – New futures

We’re committed to investing in people as is key to developing the building standards services which serves our great city. You might have noticed a few changes in our team in recent months.

In our recruitment drive, we promoted Daniel Henderson to team manager for the south-east team and welcomed three new assistant building surveyors – Audrey Vass, Daniel Peart and Stuart Young.

Our apprentices recently visited a site with Senior Surveyor Douglas Collins, who has now retired, where they met Steven McGuire from CALA Homes.

We’re also proud that, for the first time ever, we’ve given three young people the opportunity to start a great career as building standards surveyors through our new apprentice posts. Working in partnership with Heriot Watt University, Jessica Morris, Rebekah Mack and Daniel O’Hara will develop core skills at university while working on building warrant applications with our team as well as playing a key part in our service improvements.

Councillor Neil Gardiner, convener of the Council’s planning committee and development sub-committee, explained: “Investing in careers and development of our team underpins our commitment to becoming one of the top performing building standards verification services in Scotland.

“It also demonstrates our commitment to facilitating Edinburgh’s successful economic and infrastructure growth.”