The pressures of the pandemic have impacted businesses and people across the world in so many ways, and Local Planning Authorities are no exception. Like many of us, Planning departments have had to adapt the way they work and how they provide services to applicants. This has included rapidly launching online services to facilitate secure meetings and introducing the infrastructure to allow their staff the opportunity to work from home. When coupled with budget constraints and industry-wide staffing shortages Planning departments have needed to make some very tough decisions to address the resulting backlog of applications.
As we emerge from the pandemic (fingers and toes crossed) we are still seeing LPA’s struggle to provide a full planning, environmental and building control service. Many state they are focusing on working through a backlog of applications in order to deliver planning decisions as effectively as they can, but as a result, they have had to stop offering pre-application services. Some including Huntingdon District Council are now recommending that people contact planning consultants, like Fuller Long, to help assess their proposals prior to submission.
Although not a conclusive list we note that the following Local Planning Authorities still have either restricted or no pre-application services:
Woking Borough Council (restricted options)
Royal Borough of Greenwich (restricted options)
Unfortunately, some Councils, although committed to maintaining pre-application services, are falling short on delivery. We therefore highly recommend that anyone seeking to make a pre-application submission contact your local planning department in advance in order to gain a realistic understanding of the likely lead in time to receive a response. We have seen examples of this process taking over 6 months or more.
If you or your clients have a project that would benefit from pre-application advice then we would be delighted to help. Our professional planners and heritage experts have years of experience to call upon, and many of our team have provided pre-application advice when working for Local Planning Authorities in the past. Please, therefore feel free to get in touch if we can be of any service.