COVID-19: Planning and building

Many of the changes to the Planning system and especially those being introduced by the Business and Planning Act 2020 – are a further response to the challenges posed by COVID-19, and the need to ensure that the system can continue to operate effectively and support the recovery.

See further details about changes to our planning services during coronavirus: Advice as at 26 January 2021

Planning

Are you still accepting planning applications?

The Council is continuing to progress the planning applications we receive. Submission of applications via the Planning portal is the preferred method for submission with applications and the fees reaching us electronically. More details on how to submit your application via the Planning Portal can be found on the Planning permission page.

Will my application take longer?

There may be some delays as we’re working under very different circumstances where the additional processes may take a little longer. The volume of general enquiries has significantly increased which is resulting in some delays although we are working hard to manage this within our existing resources. Notwithstanding this, we are still determining 91% of applications within agreed timescales. We would ask for your continued patience and understanding as the team works hard to determine your applications.

Are you still providing a pre-application service?

We will continue to provide pre-application advice which can be applied for via our web page: Pre-application advice

With regards to pre-application advice, at the present time we are able to provide either a desktop only service or where a visit is included within the charge and is deemed necessary, it will be an unaccompanied visit and a virtual meeting or telephone call.

How are you consulting residents on planning applications?

The Council is still running a postal service, therefore all applications that do not have a statutory requirement for a site notice to be displayed will be advertised by neighbour notification letter as usual.

From the week commencing 8th June, we will cease requesting that applicants and/or agents display a site notice for applications that require a statutory site notice. Whilst the interim measure has worked well, it’s not sustainable moving forward and with the relaxations Government have set out allowing greater outside movement our Planning Officers are able to resume this functions (whilst remaining safe via social distancing).

We are extremely grateful for the cooperation of our customers whilst we have been unable to carry out this duty ourselves, this support has resulted in applications continuing to be progressed and for that, we are thankful.

Are you still accepting requests to discharge planning conditions?

The Council is continuing to progress the requests we receive. Submission of requests via the Planning portal is the preferred method for submission with applications and the fees reaching us electronically. More details on how to submit your request via the Planning Portal can be found on the Planning permission page.

How will the Council be handling meetings?

All face to face meetings have suspended and can be carried out via other means such as telephone and video conferencing.

Are you carrying out site visits?

From week commencing the 15th June site visits will recommence (whilst remaining safe via social distancing). This is based on the relaxations Government have set out allowing greater outside movement. Each application visit will be assessed on a case-by-case basis in line with our updated risk assessments. It may be determined in some cases that visits are not necessary and the applicant/agent will be asked to supply photos. Wherever possible, visits will avoid going inside buildings and will need to be unaccompanied to avoid any risk of transmission. In some circumstances (e.g. where it is important to assess the internal features of a building) we may still request information/photos/videos to be sent in to allow applications to proceed in an informed manner.

What is the guidance on site visit photo requirements?

Please include the following photos for the case officer in a word document and email it to them directly.

1. The front of the property:
  Front of a property

2. The side(s) of the property showing existing windows:

  The side(s) of the property showing existing windows sample photo

For side extensions, please take a photo of the neighbour’s side elevation to make it clear where their windows are located (visible in the picture below)

3. The rear of the property including photos of the rear of the neighbours’ properties either side to show windows and any boundary treatments:

  Rear of a property including photos of the rear of the neighbours’ properties either side to show windows and any boundary treatments

4. The back garden / rear of the site to show any properties to the rear of the site:

  Back garden and properties in rear sample photo

Please note if the proposal is for the front of the property, no photos to the rear will be required but photos to the side will be, to allow us to assess the impact on your neighbours and the street scene.

Including photographs of the street will help us to assess your application more easily as it will allow us to see if there are any similar examples in the area that have been granted permission in the past.

What is the guidance on photo requirements for listed buildings and heritage related applications?

This guide covers listed buildings and buildings of historic character in conservation areas.

For unlisted buildings in conservation areas and applications affecting listed buildings, the same type of photos of the front/side/rear of the building that we are asking for to assist with planning applications would be useful. Ideally, this would include head on photographs of any elevations to be altered. Photographs of the general street character would help us understand this where the setting of a listed building or the character of a conservation area is concerned.

Photographs to understand street character
  Street character shown in photo of Bawtry area  

Photograph of elevations (This front elevation photo tells us windows are historic but that the roof covering is modern concrete)
  Front elevation of a building showing roof and windows

Other photographs would also be useful in heritage applications. This would depend very much on the nature of the proposal so it is not possible to give a prescriptive list but in general close up photos of the areas to be altered would be very helpful. Very often, such photos could be included in a heritage statement in support of the application.

Where proposals affect windows on historic buildings (particularly old windows), close ups of the whole window, its sashes, and any window heads and cills would be useful. Proposals that affect doors, and other historic details on the building would also benefit from photos of these features.

For proposals affecting the roof of a historic building, a close up of the roof material would help us understand whether it is covered in a historic or modern material.

The higher the resolution the better from our point of view but this has to be balanced with the ease of posting by email.

Internal photos of a whole window including shutters and a close up of the glazing bar detail. (Useful for assessing need for window repair or replacement on a listed building. Such photos could be useful in understanding their condition and their historic details).
  whole window shutters window showing glazing bar detail

Listed Building Consent applications sometimes cover internal alterations to a listed building that might affect historic walls and details. If you are proposing to remove walls it would be useful to have a photograph of the part of the wall to be removed including any parts retained either side or above. (Even better if the extent of the wall to be removed is annotated on the photograph)
Photographs of historic doors, architraves, covings or skirtings would need to be included where these are affected. Sometimes it would be useful to have photographs to confirm that the feature to be altered/removed is not historic.

Internal historic details: coving, architraves and window shutters
  historic coving

Where it is not possible to get the whole wall in a photo or to get as much information as possible about a small room, a short video clip scanning the wall or room taken on a mobile phone would be invaluable.

Finally…
In normal times a site visit is the basic starting point for applications affecting historic buildings. As this is no longer possible we have to find new and creative ways to get an understanding of the building. As each application is different, the above is not an exhaustive list and the relevant conservation officer would be happy to discuss the most useful supporting information with the applicant/agent.

How do you intend to determine planning applications that would normally go to planning committee?

The Corona Virus Act 2020 passed into law on 25th March 2020 and the Regulations enabling local planning authorities the freedom to change the way Planning Committees are run came into force on 4th April 2020. The Regulations include provisions for the 'place' of meetings to include electronic, digital or virtual locations.

To date, we have held two virtual planning committee meetings, which allowed much needed planning decisions to be taken. This process has been a success and is now established and we will now continue to hold our regular monthly planning committee meetings in this manner during the Covid19 situation. This importantly means that we are now fully undertaking this important planning function for our larger/more contentious planning submissions.

Please note, that the programming of applications to be heard by the Planning Committee will need to be assessed in order to ensure that the process remains both efficient and workable – we will of course make every effort to respond where there is a clear, evidenced demand.

Are Local Land Charge and CON29 searches still being responded to?

The Local Authority has a statutory duty to provide a Local Land Charges (LLC1) service. The CON29 service is discretionary, although all efforts are being made to ensure all LLC1 and CON29 searches are being responded to within the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government target of ten days from receipt.

Historical Information

Due to the library being closed we are unable to access historical information.

Changes to the Planning system

Many of these – and especially those being introduced by the Business and Planning Act 2020 – are a further response to the challenges posed by COVID-19, and the need to ensure that the system can continue to operate effectively and support the recovery.

Changes to Permitted Development Rights: Building Up

New permitted development rights are being introduced to extend buildings upwards to create new homes and living space. Regulations introduced on 24 June allow purpose-built freestanding blocks of flats of three storeys or more to extend upwards by up to 2 additional storeys to create new homes, up to a height of 30m. This right came into force on 1 August 2020.

A second phase of new permitted development rights to build upwards allow up to 2 additional storeys on free standing blocks, up to a height of 30 metres, and on buildings in a terrace (of 2 or more buildings) in certain commercial uses. They also allow up to 2 additional storeys on existing houses, detached or in a terrace, to create new self-contained homes or additional living space up to a height of 18 metres. Single storey homes will be able to add 1 additional storey. There are conditions and a number of prior approvals are required including on specific matters including the external appearance of the proposed development and its impact on the amenity of neighbours. The regulations came into force on 31 August 2020.

Forms are downloadable via the Planning Portal.

New fee schedule to reflect charges: Fee Schedule

Demolition and Rebuilding as Residential

A new permitted development right to allow vacant and redundant free-standing commercial and light industrial premises, and residential blocks of flats, to be demolished and replaced with new residential units. At the same time the right will allow up to 2 storeys to be added to the height of the original building, to help create more homes, as long as the resulting residential building is no higher than 18 metres.

There are conditions and the right is subject to prior approval by the local planning authority. The regulations came into force on 31 August 2020.

Extending planning permissions

Any unimplemented planning permission with time limits for implementation that were due to expire between 19/08/2020 and 31/12/2020 will automatically be extended to 01/05/2021. There will be no requirement for additional environmental information.

Applicants don’t need to do anything.

If an applicant wants written confirmation the LPA should give it, this will be in the form of an email.

Applications with a time limit for implementation between 23/03/2020 and 18/08/2020 will only benefit from an extension where additional environmental approval is granted.

There is no fee for this.

Applications must be made in writing and submitted electronically to the relevant local planning authority. Doncaster has created their own application form: Additional Environmental Approval

The LPA has 28 days to make a decision, Applicants and local planning authorities can agree an extension to the 28-day period, but the total of the extension should not exceed 21 days in order to ensure that decisions are made as quickly as possible. Any such agreement must be in writing.

More information about what is required as part of the additional environmental approval can be found using the following link: Extension of certain planning permissions guidance

Relaxing retail opening hours

On the 2nd December 2020 Government issues a letter to all Councils in England requesting that Councils take a positive approach to allow retailers to extend their opening hours over the festive period to the end of January 2021, where planning conditions currently limit opening hours. This is to ease pressure on transport services and make social distancing in shops easier. In view of this the Local Planning Authority will take a pragmatic view with retailers who wish to seek longer opening hours contrary to any planning conditions up to the end of January 2021. Importantly, should the Council receive complaints from local residents in terms of amenity impacts as a result of this relaxation, these complaints will be investigated on a case-by-case basis.

Construction site hours

The Business and Planning Act 2000 has introduced measures to provide for a temporary, fast track deemed consent route for developers to apply to local planning authorities to vary existing conditions, or the details submitted under a condition, that limit construction site working hours. This measure came into force on 28 July 2020. Local authorities have 14 calendar days excluding public and bank holidays to consider such applications.

If an application is approved, this will temporarily amend planning restrictions on construction working hours until 1 April 2021, unless another earlier date has been requested by the applicant or decided upon by the local planning authority, with the agreement of the applicant.

Use Class Reform

Regulations have been introduced to reform and simplify the Use Classes Order to make it easier for high street uses to change use without the need for a planning application. This will create a new broad category of ‘commercial, business and service’ uses which will allow commercial, retail and leisure uses greater freedom to adapt to changing circumstances and respond to the needs of their local communities. A new community and learning class will allow for the protection of community facilities and infrastructure. Certain uses such as pubs and theatres will remain protected, while others such as hot food takeaways or betting shops will require full planning consent.

The regulations provide for the existing range of permitted development rights in the GDPO to be preserved as of 31 August until 31 July 2021. Individual buildings and uses will be able to exercise the permitted development right they were entitled to on 31 August 2020. The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 1 September 2020.

Use Class Changes

Came into force from the 1st September 2020

Regulations introduce three new use classes: Class E, F.1 & F.2. Where a building or other land is being used for a purpose falling within one of the original Use Classes, that building or other land will be treated as if it is being used for the corresponding new use class.

Use Class Changes after 1 September 2020Use Class Changes after 1 September 2020 Use Class Changes after 1 September 2020

Overall we have seen a 13% increase in planning applications and enquiries so far this quarter compared to 2019.

As we see our Development Management team fully staffed for the first time in 18 months we aim to continue to deliver our planning services to you, albeit still within very uncertain times.

Have your say

We’re pleased to inform you that we have been working with the Planning Advisory Service and as of July this year we launched our new customer surveys. The surveys are electronic, are application specific and are about the customer’s experience on that particular planning application, it’s not a general satisfaction survey. Surveys are emailed each month for decisions issued in the previous month and will take a matter of minutes to complete.

Feedback is so important to enable us to respond, take action and shape our service. Without your feedback, positive or negative, we’re unable to make constructive steps to further improve so please do take part. If you don’t wish to provide your feedback you can easily opt out which means you will no longer receive any surveys for any applications you submit.

Please do check your junk mail, if it does make its way in to their rather than your mailbox, please mark it as ‘not spam’.

Any questions, contact: Jenna.rumley@doncaster.gov.uk Planning Improvement and Support Manager.

Don't wait in line - get online

Did you know you can apply and pay for planning permission online. From here you can:

  • Make a planning application
  • Upload your plans
  • Calculate the fee
  • Make a secure online payment

Using this online function is quick, easy and can save you time and money. You can also be confident that your application has been sent directly to Doncaster Council avoiding any unnecessary delays.

Any queries, speak to one of our Technical Support staff on 01302 734854 or tsi@doncaster.gov.uk

Building Control

Are you still accepting Building Regulations applications?

Yes, the Councils Building Control team are accepting applications as usual and are available to discuss any building Regulation enquiry by telephone, 01302 734848 or email building.control@doncaster.gov.uk

Are you carrying out site inspections?

Site inspections are now being carried out on a risk assessed basis in line with government guidelines, therefore while making the booking we will need to confirm the following:

  • If anyone at the site (property owner or builder) to be visited has been ill and displaying the coronavirus symptoms.
  • Can the inspection be carried out in the absence of the builder/homeowner if necessary?
  • Will there be vulnerable people on the premises? 
  • Who will be on site?
  • Is the building occupied?
  • Is internal access required?
  • Will climbing scaffolding/ladders or entering excavations be required? 
Examples of external site inspections that we will endeavour to physically carryout are:
  • Commencement/Excavations
  • Foundations
  • DPC
  • Drainage
  • External Structural work
  • Roof timbers
Internal inspections such as:
  • Structural alterations
  • completions
  • general advice
will be carried out by alternative means if deemed suitable, such as live video call or photographs.

How do I report a dangerous structure?

The Building control team continue to provide 24/7 dangerous structures cover, please report these by telephone only on 01302 734848 (office hours) or 01302 341628 (out of office hours).

Planning Policy and Environment

Is the local Records Centre still open?

The LRC remains open and that staff are working remotely away from the normal office. Therefore response times in respect of data enquiries may be longer than normal. Please be assured that we are working to respond to any enquiries as quickly as possible.

What is happening with Doncaster’s Local Plan?

The Local Plan Hearing sessions commenced in October and were the first blended events conducted by the Planning Inspectorate since the first lockdown began in March this year. The sessions have ran smoothly and those who wanted to participate have been able to do so, whether in the Council Chamber, at the office, or at home. In total, there have been 21 separate Hearing sessions held to discuss the 16 Main Matters over a period of 5 weeks. The last of the scheduled Hearing sessions concluded on 1 December 2020.

The Inspector is likely to now issue some form of interim findings, and in advance of there being a full consultation on any Main Modifications that have been identified through the Examination process to date in order for the plan to be 'sound'. This will then inform the Inspector's Final Report. The Examination closes when the Council receives the Inspector's Final Report and, at that point, the Plan can go to be adopted and becomes part of the Development Plan for the Borough.    

Please see the Local Plan Examination page for the latest news and updates.

Can Neighbourhood Plans still be progressed?

Regulations linked to the Coronavirus Act 2020 mean that no elections or referendums can take place until 6 May 2021. This includes neighbourhood planning referendums. These provisions will be kept under review and may be amended or revoked in response to changing circumstances.

Changes have been made to current planning guidance to set out that neighbourhood plans awaiting referendums can be given significant weight in decision-making.

The updated planning guidance also provides further advice on the implications for conducting publicity and consultation, and examinations.

Grants and technical support will continue to be available to support communities during the next financial year, and Locality’s advice service continues to operate as normal, including advice on how to continue with Neighbourhood Plans during Covid 19. Please note that due to the impacts of coronavirus, the Basic Grant allowance for Neighbourhood Planning bodies has increased from £9,000 to £10,000.

 

Last updated: 29 March 2021 11:34:47