As COVID-19 sweeps the nation, we are all becoming increasingly concerned about “social distancing”.

Our planning committee meetings, site visits and preapplication meetings to name a few, have had to take a step back in priorities.

That is until now, an emergency law that would allow councils to sit virtual planning committee meetings has now been passed. However, there is secondary legislation required before we can press the GO button and inform our clients, whose developments have been paused as a consequence.

As it stands the 1972 Local Government Act requires Councillors to be physically present to decide planning applications, and currently there is no provision for remote participation or voting.

Previously within the Coronavirus Bill there was nothing mentioned of this emergency legislation.

But earlier this week the much needed change to the Act was discussed to address this project halting issue.

The Secretary of State now has the task of introducing new regulations to safe guard the amendments. This includes the:

“provision for persons to attend, speak at, vote in, or otherwise participate in, local authority meetings without all of the persons, or without any of the persons, being together in the same place”

These new measures will be in place until 7 May 2021.

Planning Barrister Christopher Young QC was quoted saying “when the ones relating to planning committee will be filed isn’t entirely clear, I think the government will try to make the regulations take affect immediately. They want it to be done quickly”

The emergency law has the potential to again unlock the doors to our current and future clients projects.

It also gives Smart Planning, in the private sector,  a vote of confidence that  local planning authorities are being given the necessary resources to continue to determine planning applications in a timely manner during this difficult period. This will go some way towards achieving the expectations and aspirations of our clients.

02 April 2020