Coronavirus impact: Planning and building control

Published April 28, 2020 at 12:56

Rossendale Council is still running town planning and building control services during this time – but with some changes.

Development Control committee is going ahead virtually tonight – a first for the Council.

Agenda can be found here. Details of how to get onto the meeting are in the agenda.

Site visits

All Planning and building control staff are following the Government’s advice aimed at limiting the spread of the Covid-19 virus and are working from home. All site visits to application sites are suspended until further notice.

Applicants and agents are asked to send photographs of sites and their boundaries with neighbouring land, to planning case officers and building control officers as this would be extremely useful so that consideration of proposals can continue.

In certain circumstances it will be necessary for case officers to undertake a site visit, and in such cases, this will have to take place post lockdown, and a time extension will be necessary.

Consultation with statutory consultees

We can still consult with statutory consultees such as the Highway Authority and United Utilities as this is done electronically. Therefore, consultation responses are still being received from statutory consultees although the ability of some consultees to respond may also be compromised by the current situation and as a result, it may be necessary for planning case officers to request time extensions.

Neighbour notification

We do not have e-mail addresses for residents so neighbours are notified by posting letters to home addresses. As such, we are relying on a small number of staff working in the office for short periods of time to generate these letters.

Planning applications can normally be viewed both on the Council’s website and at the Council Offices and comments made by e-mail, directly onto the website, or letter.

Obviously, the ability of those without the internet to view and comment on applications has been seriously affected. Applications where the neighbour notification has been interrupted or not been able to start because of the lockdown, will require a time extension beyond the end of the lockdown. This is to help those residents without access to the internet a reasonable period of time to be able to view plans and comment, i.e. 21 days for notification on new applications and 14 days for notification on amended plans. If neighbour notification started on an application and been interrupted by the lockdown, say, for example, 10 days into the process, then we will allow a further 11 days following the end of the lockdown for people to view plans. Therefore, they will have had a total of 21 days to respond.

Determination of Planning applications

The determination of a small number of planning applications affected by the current situation is likely to be delayed. This is an unprecedented situation and we are working in and responding to a rapidly evolving situation. The patience of applicants and all interested parties is appreciated.

Local Plan – Post examination hearing actions

The forward planning team is continuing to respond to the schedule of actions agreed with the inspectors at the end of the hearings in October. Given the ‘lock-down’ measures in place some of the actions are likely to be delayed and this has been communicated to the inspectors.

Local Plan Transit Site Hearing

The Council has consulted on a proposed allocation for a Gypsy Transit Site at Sharneyford. A local plan examination hearing scheduled for April 2 at the Council Offices was postponed. The Planning inspectorate are exploring options whether this Hearing can take place remotely. The Local plans programme officer is keeping all those who have registered to speak updated of the situation. If it is confirmed that the Hearing can take place remotely using video conferencing facilities, then an update will be provided on the Council’s website.

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