Date: 24/03/2020 | COVID-19, Commercial Property, Dispute Resolution, Environmental, Planning, Residential Development, Construction
It is subject to general UK and Scottish Government guidance about infection control measures such as self-isolation and social distancing. The below is correct at noon on 24 March 2020 but the situation is evolving very quickly and at short notice. Please check with the relevant body to ensure you have the latest position.
Planning Authorities – Planning Applications and Decisions
Approaches will vary from Council to Council. We have reviewed the current positions of the six busiest Councils in Scotland in terms of planning application numbers and summarise them below.
Section 75 Planning Agreements
Given staffing shortages and potential issues in establishing remote working, delays should be expected to negotiations on S75 and other statutory agreements. Where planning permissions are contingent on finalising an agreement by a specified deadline, it is useful to check with the relevant Council its policy on extending that deadline in the present circumstances. Further, the status of Registers of Scotland should also be checked where S75 agreements must be registered in order for a planning permission to be released.
Councils have powers to enforce planning breaches but are not obliged to use them. The Scottish Government’s Chief Planner issued a letter on 11 March 2020 requesting that Councils avoid rigidity in enforcing planning conditions which limit the time and duration of deliveries, retail operations and other activities involved in the distribution of food and supplies during the Coronavirus outbreak. This relaxation is also likely to apply to other types of planning condition and activities also in practice, although this is not specifically addressed in the letter.
Consultations and Events
Consultation documents which would ordinarily be supplied for the public to view in person are not likely to be available due to venue closures. Statutory registers appear to be being kept up to date so information continues to remain online. There are a number of planning-related consultations in progress at the moment. In Edinburgh, this includes the Choices for City Plan 2030 consultation, face-to-face events relating to which have been cancelled. Representations on the Choices for City Plan can still be made online until 31 March 2020. The NPF 4 Call for Ideas deadline has been extended until 30 April 2020. For other consultations, please check with the relevant local authority or the Scottish Government website for latest news.
Planning Appeals – Department for Planning and Environmental Appeals
There is no relevant update on the DPEA website but anecdotal evidence suggests normal operations for the week commencing 23 March 2020. The DPEA’s approach beyond this week remains to be confirmed but may follow that of the Scottish Courts (see below).
Court of Session (Statutory Planning Challenges and Judicial Reviews)
The Court of Session and High Court will now deal with essential business and convene to continue/adjourn business as required. Please refer to our Dispute Resolution team’s page for further guidance.
Please contact Jacqueline Cook, Head of Planning, if you wish to discuss.
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