The letter states that some councils are concerned about the implications of COVID19 for their capacity to process planning applications within statutory timescales. The letter states that it is
important that authorities continue to provide the best service possible in these stretching times and prioritise decision-making to ensure the planning system continues to function, especially where this will support the local economy. It asks that an innovative approach is taken, using all options available to continue service. It is recognised that face-to-face events and meetings may have to be cancelled but it is encouraged that every opportunity is explored to use technology to ensure that discussions and consultations can go ahead. Councils are also encouraged to consider delegating committee decisions where appropriate.
The letter adds that Government has confirmed that it will introduce legislation to allow council committee meetings to be held virtually for a temporary period, which it is expected will allow planning committees to continue. The letter encourages councils to be pragmatic and continue, as much as possible, to work proactively with applicants and others, where necessary agreeing extended periods for making decisions.
In the letter it is recognised that there may be circumstances where a local planning authority is unable to consider a permitted development prior approval application within the deemed consent period. It remains important to prioritise these so important economic activity can continue. In these exceptional circumstances the authority can, if necessary, seek to agree an extended approval date with the applicant. Where agreement cannot be reached an authority may need to consider whether
prior approval is refused if the application cannot be considered with the requisite attention.
Author: Chief Planner
Date: March 2020 date of publication
This item updates DCP section 5.2