Due to essential maintenance our online planning, building control and licensing services may be unavailable for short periods between noon and 2pm on Wednesday 4 November 2020.

As we are all adapting to the ever evolving situation regarding Covid-19, I wanted to advise you of our current business continuity arrangements for managing planning applications.

Currently staffing numbers are at a level where we can still provide a full service but you may experience delays.  Officers will try to keep applicants and agents updated and ask for extensions of time where possible. We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we work through the large volume of work in these troubling times.  We have updated our existing Statement of Community Involvement in relation to Covid-19 and requirements to maintain social distancing which can be viewed in this document.  This will need to be kept under review if some of our officers and councillors have to self-isolate.  Many of our processes are paper-less and so can be carried out remotely. If you are making an application, you can help us continue to deliver the service by avoiding paper submissions. Any paper submissions cannot be prioritised or actioned quickly in the current circumstances.

Due to the current situation you may wish to consider, if your application is not time-critical, delaying submission during the present period.

The Planning Committees now meet virtually and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, although the Sites Inspection Sub-Committee has not resumed. We will keep you updated if there is any change to this. Site visits by officers will be carried out on a risk assessed basis and following the principle of minimising contact, and officers will be the final judge as to whether a site visit takes place. If you are an applicant you can help us by positively responding to any requests for additional photographs of sites, if that can help the assessment of proposals. In general, officers have been advised to minimise face to face contact and to primarily engage via e-mail.

Thank you for your support whilst we deliver our services in these challenging times

Mrs Marie Bath, Planning Manager

 

Planning committees

Planning committees (Development Management, Strategic Sites Delivery and Spatial Planning Committee} meetings will recommence at the end of May and will be held as virtual meetings.

The first meeting will be the Development Management Committee meeting on the 28 May, and we will run two further DM Committee meetings on the 11 and 25 June.

The Spatial Planning Committee will meet on the 29 June.

After that the committees will then run in their normal schedule as set out in the Civic Calendar on our website.

These meetings will be held using Microsoft Teams and will also be webcast.

Unfortunately for these first few meetings at least, we will not be able to host public speaking during the meetings. We will however accept written statements from the public (and parish councils) up to 24 hours before the start time of the committee meeting. Statements received by this time will be sent to all committee members and will be taken into account in the assessment of the application. Statements received after the deadline may not be taken into account. Statements should be submitted to democratic.services@southglos.gov.uk

South Gloucestershire ward members who have submitted a statement will also be able to join the committee meeting and speak to the committee at the start of the item they are interested in, before the committee goes on to consider the application.

 

We are working to ensure that the six principles advocated by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and Friends of the Earth (FoE) to safeguard the role of local communities in the planning process are protected:

No planning application normally decided by a committee should be decided using delegated or executive powers

No changes are proposed to the existing  delegations.

Virtual meetings should be reliably live-streamed on video, with speaking rights for objectors and third party representatives

We will live stream and are working towards reinstating public speaking. There is no requirement for anyone to register to view, and we will take written statements and ensure that they are adequately communicated to inform the debate and decision making.

Councils should produce a report setting out how they will follow best practice for the involvement of communities

This is being kept under active review.

Councils should create and promote a website page giving information on upcoming meetings and consultations and how to take part

Details are on our website and we are using existing advertised dates, relevant parties are advised of the committee date.  Details will include how they can engage, and the website has been  updated with these arrangements.

Councils should extend deadlines for the determination of planning applications and responding to consultations

The council already works to try an accommodate any reasonable request for an extension of time on a case-by-case basis.

Site visits should be restored as soon as they can be conducted safely

We plan that site visits by officers will be restarted where these are essential and can be carried out within national guidelines. Committee site visits will be kept under review, but are currently paused.

Any votes on estate regeneration should be put on hold until there is a reliable, democratic way to vote

There are no estate regeneration proposals currently being determined. The council will carefully consider the scheduling of applications likely to generate substantial public interest to enable participation if at all possible.

 

Site visits

In addition to re-starting planning committee meetings, we are looking to see if we can enable case officer site visits to  be carried out. This will be in those limited cases where a visit is considered essential to enable the assessment of the application and only if we are satisfied they can be carried out safely and in accordance with social distancing requirements. Social distancing requirements mean that it will still not be possible to re-start planning committee site visits.

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