Savills Planning has welcomed the provisions being put in place by the Scottish Government to keep the wheels of the country’s planning system in motion during the current hiatus caused by Covid-19.
Alastair Wood, head of Savills Planning in Scotland said: “We are encouraged by the quick response by the chief planner. Planning, by its very nature, looks forward and it is important that the planning system in Scotland keeps going so it can play an important part in moving the economy forward once the world returns to normal, however long that takes.”
Savills planning team in Scotland has been liaising with the chief planner and his team alongside Homes for Scotland and the Scottish Property Federation on temporary procedures to be adopted in order to maintain a functioning planning system in Scotland at the current time. These have now been set out in a letter issued by the Chief Planner.
The key provisions set out in the chief planner’s letter are:
- Planning applications will be determined through virtual meetings or widening delegated powers to include major planning applications
- The need to hold a public pre-application consultation events is to be temporarily suspended and replaced with online consultations
- Application documents will no longer be required to be placed for inspection in public spaces like libraries while restrictions on movement remain in place and can instead be placed online for public review
- The requirement for public site notices and neighbour notifications may be paused or passed back to applicants may be paused while a work-around is found, following discussions with Heads of Planning in Scotland
- The preparation of NPF4 is to be delayed with formal consultation now likely to take place in 2021. The ‘Call for Ideas’ on NPF4 deadline has been extended to April 30 to allow wider participation in this initial stage.
- The potential increase to planning application fees has been paused for now
- Timescales for other planning reform measures are likely to be delayed and updates will be provided via the www.transformingplanning.scot website.
In addition, The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act received Royal Assent April 6 2020. This has important implications for planning permissions that are due to expire within the next six months and for applications for the approval of conditions that are due to be made in the next six months, ie by October 6 2020. These timescales will automatically be extended to April 6 2021. Planning permissions expiring after October 6 2020 will still need to be renewed or implemented. Applications for the approval of conditions due after that date will also still need to be submitted on time.
In terms of appeals and public inquiries, the DPEA will request that all parties agree to written representations and options for virtual hearings, or adjourn until a later date.
Most councils are still processing applications. Savills has collated full details of the procedures that are currently being followed by the councils covering Scotland’s main cities.