The planning system plays a vital role in enabling the delivery of development that will support the UK’s economic recovery during COVID-19. The Coronavirus Act 2020, which received Royal Assent on 25 March 2020 makes provision for Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to change the way in which they hold their meetings. This came into force on 4 April 2020. DLP Planning Ltd have been working across our offices to provide a schedule of LPAs current self-contingency measures that are in place in response to Covid-19.
Six weeks on from changes in legislation, we are seeing a mixed response from LPAs across England. The work DLP Planning Ltd have undertaken highlights a diversity in practice with some LPA’s already holding virtual Committees during May 2020.
Several LPAs within West Midlands and London have successfully executed virtual Planning Committees with Members determining applications for schemes that are either departures to Local Plan policies or those with multiple objections. Some of the other Regions have been taking a more cautious approach, reviewing their internal procedures and IT options for holding virtual meetings. It is anticipated that the take up of virtual Committees will spread across LPAs in England as Council’s set up their legal and IT systems. Virtual Committee meetings have been successfully facilitated by different methods, including Microsoft Teams.
In terms of work on Plan Making, there appears to be is a mixed response. Some LPAs are continuing to press ahead with policy work in line with their current timetables, whilst others are pausing work for the foreseeable future.
What is clear is the eagerness of LPAs across the UK to embrace this current crisis, with front runners setting a fast pace of change made possible by legislation. This has allowed politically sensitive applications to be progressed. DLP Planning Ltd schedule provides a summary of LPA’s current self-contingency measures and will assist clients in making decisions on their strategy for current and proposed planning applications. A link is provided to the current Schedule and DLP Planning Ltd will be providing regular updates as the situation changes.