An update letter providing further guidance to developers and local authorities regarding the planning system has been issued by Neil Hemington, Chief Planning Officer at Welsh Government.
The letter, coming a month after the first update, provides further guidance primarily to LPA's on their approach to site visits and publicity. In summary, if it is not possible to do so remotely, it is now accepted that site visits do represent a 'reasonable excuse' to undertake a trip away from home for the purposes of work. Therefore, site visits and the insertion of site notices are permitted, so long as all necessary precautions are taken and those undertaking visits abide by the social distancing guidelines (and subject to a number of specific points, set out in the letter).
With regard to pre-application public consultation for developers, the same applies (with the same expectations in terms of compliance with social distancing measures).
When it comes to publicity therefore, site notices are permitted, and the letter states that those wishing to undertake publicity for the purposes of advertising a planning application should consider alternative means to supplement the base requirements.
"When considering the best means to bring planning applications to the attention of the public, a variety of methods are encouraged, taking into account the change to people’s movements and social interaction."
Unfortunately, with regard to deposit of hard copy documents and the requirement for these to be available to view at a location in the vicinity of the proposed development, there is still some clarification to come and we are assured that further advice on this issue will be provided in due course.
Similarly, for DNS applications, consideration is still ongoing for updated guidance on the requirement to deposit hard copies of documents with Welsh Ministers and the local planning authorities.
Therefore, with the legislation now in place to permit remote meetings of planning committees, and agreement on the process and permission to visit site for the purpose of inspections and site notices, we are - in principle - moving towards a functioning planning system. However there are still a few key pieces of the puzzle to slot into place before its possible to proceed with statutory pre-application consultation for major projects.
The full letter can be viewed here:
Have a scheme that is currently or shortly due to require pre-application consultation, but unsure of the current procedures and approach? Let us know, we'd be happy to have a chat about your PAC project or DNS scheme.