Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice

Planning and Building Standards

Updated 20 December 2021

A number of short-term issues are currently affecting delivery of some of the council’s Planning and Building Standards Services.

The number of applications received by both Planning and Building Standards so far in 2021/22 has increased by over 30% compared to 2019/20. This reflects the trend of an upturn in the economy which has seen increasing activity by developers including housebuilders. This is excellent news for the construction industry and the economy more generally but it is having an impact on how quickly we can deal with applications. At the same time the number of planning enforcement enquiries has doubled in the same period so we are unable to respond to complaints about unauthorised work has soon as we would like.

The service has recently carried out recruitment within the Planning Service and more is planned for the Building Standards service in the early part of 2022. While this will help address some of the pressures we are currently facing it will take time for these additional officers to have an impact. As a result in the meantime the Service is having to concentrate resources on priority areas – that is, planning and building warrant applications, and enforcement cases where they involve dangerous/defective buildings or are having an impact on public safety or an immediate and significant impact on the amenity of an area.

We remain committed to providing good customer care for each application and enforcement enquiry and our teams are working hard to maintain business continuity for all our customers. However inevitably it is going to take a bit longer than normal to process applications and enforcement complaints. Unfortunately, this does mean that, as a temporary measure, we will have to continue give lower priority to other services provide. These include pre-application advice and meetings.

This is not unique to South Lanarkshire and other councils are dealing with similar pressures and adopting a prioritisation approach. We will review this situation in Spring 2022 and will provide further updates.

Keeping in touch

Like the rest of the council, many of our staff are working from home but have access to all the systems they have within the office, including email. This means that you can still contact case officers via telephone and email. You can make urgent telephone enquiries by calling the Customer Service Centre on 0303 123 1015.

Importantly, should this change, we will let you know as soon as we can. There is currently no timescale for officers returning to work from Montrose House, Hamilton.

Applications and written enquiries

We would respectfully request that, wherever possible, you submit applications and other related documents through the Scottish Government’s e-development portal.  We will continually update the information and advice on our website. Please let us know if you have any difficulties and we will try to resolve these by email or by phone.

We can continue to receive documents by post but we will only be able to access these once a week. This is to reduce the amount of time our staff have to work within the office. You will understand that it would be beneficial for everyone to receive correspondence through the national portal at this time to reduce delays. Neighbour notification letters are being sent out once a week and the advertisement of applications are still being published in the press, where necessary. Should you wish to make representations on an application, we would prefer you to submit these electronically via the Public Access system on the website or by email. In addition, in line with Scottish Government guidance, site notices will be published once a week on the Planning and building standards weekly list page of the website rather than posted on site. 

We will also continue to determine applications using our wide ranging delegation powers. The Planning Committee and Planning Local Review Board are being held virtually. However there is currently no requirement to make these meetings open to the public. Further information about this can be found on the council meetings page.

Before commencing any building work please ensure that such activity is permitted under the Scottish Government’s current Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance, please visit the following website for more information https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/.

If you require any further information on permitted activities please contact the Council’s Environmental Services section on 0303 123 1015.

Site visits

As you will appreciate with the current situation, we have had to significantly reduce the number of site visits that can be made. However, site visits have now re-commenced. At the present time they are limited to essential visits only and we ask that you continue to provide us with alternative means of assessment wherever possible. If it is safe to do so, you can submit photographs of the application site to help us assess the impact of the proposal on the surrounding area.

Enquiries about suspected unauthorised development can still be made on the Planning enforcement page. We will try to deal with your enquiry as far as we can and keep you updated.

National advice and guidance

Temporary secondary legislation has been introduced in relation to statutory Pre-Application Consultation that applicants are required to carry out before submitting an application for proposals falling into the category of major development. It removes the normal requirement to hold a public event as part of the consultation process. Associated guidance has been produced by the Scottish Government which sets out alternative arrangements that should be considered to replace the public event.

Further advice and guidance to support the planning service during lockdown is expected to be produced. We will let you know how this will affect our current practices once it is published. In the meantime, we will be as pragmatic and flexible as possible. We will need to consider changing some current practices and consider temporary solutions.

The Scottish Government’s Building Standards Division has also provided advice and guidance which seeks to:

  • outline a consistent and supportive approach to the management of applications with respect to:

    - extending the duration of a building warrant
    - the relaxation of the deemed refusal of warrant application which remains not granted after a period of nine months
     
  • outline a pragmatic approach to the undertaking of reasonable inquiry through the assessment of alternative evidence

Our Building Standards officers have been made aware of this guidance and have been advised how they should implement it.

Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020

This legislation covers a wide range of subjects in relation to planning. Following a review of the Act by the Scottish Government, it ensures that, where a full planning permission or planning permission in principle would have expired between 7 April 2020 and 31 March 2022, then that permission will not lapse until 30 September 2022. The permission would only lapse if development has not commenced after that time.

In relation to applications for approval of applications for matters specified in conditions following the granting of a Planning Permission in Principle, if the last date for making an application for an approval is within the period 7 April 2020 to 31 March 2022, then the time limit for making such an application has been extended to 30 September 2022.

The act also extends the duration of any listed building consent or conservation area consent due to expire between 27 May 2020 and 31 March 2022, giving until 30 September 2022 to commence development. You can find general information about this in Annex H of the Scottish Government Circular 3/2013 on Development Management Procedures.

We look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure the economic success and prosperity of South Lanarkshire.

Stay safe and keep well