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Sun November 29 2020

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Edinburgh adapts planning processes to aid recovery

27 Apr Edinburgh City Council is adapting its planning service to ensure that decisions can continue to be taken with the aim of avoiding project delays once lockdown ends.

“It’s important that when we come out of lockdown the construction industry is not held up and can hit the ground running with the right planning and building warrant approvals in place,” said Neil Gardiner, the council’s planning convener.

The council has been establishing new ways of working and adapting its planning service. It said that this includes making sure that citizens can still comment on planning applications and making and issuing decisions aimed at helping with a swift recovery and a positive future for the city.

The development management sub-committee will start to meet again ‘virtually’ to consider significant planning applications with the same membership and regularity, with 20th May planned as the date for the first committee meeting to convene since lockdown began.

The council said that work on planning applications has been continuing with all planning team working from home and that over 360 applications have been decided since lockdown began. Building warrant applications are also being progressed and over 320 warrants have been granted during the same period.

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Gardiner said: “I would like to reassure citizens and the business community that our planning and building standards service is rising to the challenges that physical distancing due to the ongoing pandemic presents. Since lockdown started the council has continued to progress hundreds of planning and building warrant applications. I’m also delighted that we have the green light to reconvene the Development Management Sub Committee electronically next month as elected member oversight is an important part of the planning process. I’m reassured that the public can still comment on applications and that we will issue decisions on applications to everyone as soon as we possibly can.”

The council has introduced new ways for people to stay informed and comment on planning proposals despite the lockdown. Site notices will be published online, and adverts will be published in the press. Neighbour notification letters are being issued by post, with the planning portal open for comments to be made on applications.  A weekly list will publicise all applications received, decisions made, and site notices published.

The closure of offices means that the council is unable to receive any paper letters of representation or paper applications.  Online representations and applications are being accepted/validated and, where appropriate, delegated decisions are being issued. 

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