Covid-19 and the planning application process

Development management interim working arrangements

The Council’s Local Planning Authority (LPA) wishes to follow the current UK Government guidance and protect its staff and customers from the spread of the virus. The LPA also wants to adhere to Welsh Government guidance and attempt to provide an on-going planning service as best it can. To do both of these things, however, is difficult and some hard decisions must be made. The following sets out the interim working arrangements for the LPA from June 2020 until our next review.

Pre-application service

We will be accepting, attempting to validate and responding to paid for pre-application enquiries submitted electronically. Responses may be delayed during this time.

Planning applications and enquiries

We will be accepting applications submitted electronically through the planning portal or via e-mail. (Preferably through the planning portal) Payments for such applications may only be made through BACS payment until further notice.

We will not be able to accept or process any hard copy, paper submissions until further notice.

We will be attempting to validate planning applications submitted electronically and will alert relevant statutory consultees, including City, Town and Community Council’s (CT&CC’s), of such valid applications via e-mail.

We will be attempting to post individual neighbour consultation letters on relevant planning applications and, where required under the relevant legislation and safe to do so, posting site notices. Applicants may also be requested to assist Officers in posting site notices and providing further site information to enable applications to be progressed.

We will give priority to applications linked to a Covid-19 response or recovery development proposal (i.e. new health or medical storage facility, food production or distribution facility, communication or essential utilities).

Please note – due to staff redeployment and the on-going restrictions delays should be expected on most planning applications submitted from 23rd March 2020 onwards.

Officers are attempting to undertake low risk site visits where social distancing can be achieved. It may not be possible for full site assessments to be carried out on all applications. Applicants should look reasonably at Extension of Time (EOT) requests in these circumstances.

All correspondence with the LPA must be via e-mail through the planning@denbighshire.gov.uk  address.

Planning Committee

A limited number of relevant planning applications will be presented to a new Virtual Planning Committee meeting on our usual monthly cycle. Currently there can be no direct involvement by the public at such meetings. Those persons who would have taken up public speaking slots at such meetings will now need to prepare a written speech (700 words max) which will be read out to the Committee by Officers. Please e-mail planning@denbighshire.gov.uk should you have any queries on Planning Committee arrangements.

Planning enforcement

We will continue to accept valid electronic planning complaint forms, however, expect delays to most investigations and formal enforcement action unless they are linked to priority cases. Priority Cases are those relating to unauthorised works to Listed Buildings, Protected Trees and cases where urgent Stop Notices are required.

Planning appeals

Please contact Planning Inspectorate Wales for advice on the processing of any current or new planning appeals.

Local Development Plan update

Clearly the current Covid-19 crisis is impacting LDP preparation for many Welsh authorities. The Strategic Planning and Housing Team are working hard to progress background technical evidence required to inform Denbighshire’s Replacement LDP. With the impact on decision-making, public engagement and fieldwork we will have to revise the timetable for the Replacement LDP set out in our Delivery Agreement. Once we have more clarity about when restrictions will be lifted and a return to normality, we will seek to revise the Delivery Agreement.

These interim working arrangements will be reviewed and any updates will be circulated to relevant stakeholders.