Contextual Plans

Due to the current Covid restrictions, planning officers are unable to undertake site visits.

However, it is important for everybody that we keep assessing and determining planning applications.

If you are submitting a planning application, it would be extremely helpful to us if you could provide photographs and relevant contextual plans as part of your submission. This information will be requested but it would help the assessment process go faster if they are provided at the start. Photographs do not need to be made publicly available.  

As always, we have a wide range of planning guidance available on our website.

For more information about how the current restrictions are affecting our service, see the Planning and Building Standards coronavirus update.

A Christmas note

Here we are, Christmas 2020. The markets are closed, we aren’t gathering for our usual Christmas parties and fireworks will not adorn the sky however, we do have the opportunity to reflect on what we have come through this year and lessons learned.

Despite the unexpected challenges we have all faced this year; as a service, as a city, we have continued to press on. I’m sure you will all agree that 2020 has been difficult and such circumstances have forced radical change. As a service, the way in which we work on a daily basis has significantly altered. A service of over 100 people shift from a safe office environment to one which offered no access to that space we’ve been used to; instead we work from our kitchen tables, our studies, our dens, our bedrooms, our garden sheds.

Planning Officer fulfilling duties for the Service

When the announcement back in March was made to pack our desks and take our laptops home, reality struck, and we realised radical change and adaptation was required to deliver the same level of service. New policies and procedures as well as new I.T. systems and software have been implemented to enable the service to continue to function. Our dedicated staff have quickly adapted to new ways of working whilst balancing a very different home life.

Post Covid-19 Planning Office

As highlighted in our time performance blog, we are beginning to see the fruits of our labour. The changes we have implemented and efforts from all of those who engage with the service, are beginning to see improvements. However, the positive results don’t end with improved time performance within the service. We are proud of progress made on major projects which will play their part in building a positive future for the city. Recent updates include the City Plan 2030 and Low Emission Zones.

Quarter Mile development, Edinburgh.

It is only from the dedication of our staff, the patience and support of our customers, stakeholders and communities, that we have managed to continue to deliver and improve the service. Once again, we would like to sincerely thank everyone for their efforts in helping the service through this challenging time and we ask that as we move forward into a new year, you continue to work with us as we continue to implement changes to improve the service for everyone.

To this end, 2020 has been a challenging year, a year of great sadness, frustration and, uncertainty however, let us reflect on the good, focus on our efforts and, recognise our achievements. 2020 has been a year where we have been given the opportunity to appreciate a way of life we took for granted in our 21st century existence however, we have proven to ourselves that we have what it takes to adapt to a new and strange environment, and we have the capacity to succeed!

Whilst we all undergo the necessary Covid-19 restrictions, we hope that as we enter the new year, we all continue to adapt and make the best of this new environment.

Finally, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year from all of us here in the Planning Service.

A new way of working

In case you missed them, some further updates:

A new way to pay, place briefs, guidance updates, character appraisals, service improvements

Planning Time Performance Review

Following on from our ‘Looking Back Over Lockdown Blog’, we have been continuing to implement changes within the service to improve our performance.

We would like to take this opportunity to share with you the results from our quarterly time performance review. Despite the challenges 2020 has encompassed, the service’s response to the restrictions enforced to protect us from Covid-19 has been positive.

The charts below show the average decision times taken to complete Major, Local and Householder applications. From the beginning of the year, there has been a general improvement in decision times across the service. In quarter two the service is delivering decisions at the national average, and we’re aiming to be even faster than that as we move forward.

Householder Average Decision Times
Local Average Decision Time
Major Developments Average Decision Times

This is great news! Whilst working hard to continue to deliver a planning service over the course of the year, our efforts to improve the service are beginning to show positive results. Once again, we would like to thank you for your patience and understanding when engaging with the service and we offer our thanks to the staff within the service who have made this achievement possible. Further information is available here.

Moving forward, we are continuing to develop new ways of working and strategies to ensure the planning service delivers high quality outcomes more efficiently.

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.