Coronavirus - what it means for Planning Services


Staff within Planning Services are continuing to work from home in line with advice. We have tried to ensure ‘business as usual’ as far as possible, although you will hopefully appreciate these remain difficult circumstances and have impacted our working practices and processes.

Please be advised that we are experiencing delays in our validation processes and in responding to 'do I need planning permission' enquiries. Please see their respective webpages for further details.

Covid-19 Response - Interim Planning Committee Procedure

Currently over 90% of decisions on planning applications are delegated to officers, in line with the Council’s adopted scheme of delegation. Decision-making on applications falling under the scheme of delegation continues unaffected, with the requisite technology generally performing well whilst the entire Planning Service is working remotely.
This situation means that the Council’s Planning and Development Committee cannot meet in its usual form. 
An extended hiatus on decision making would not be beneficial for the local economy, and may slow the economic recovery of the area as and when current movement restrictions are relaxed. Furthermore, the decisions taken by the local planning authority have the potential to be the subject of third party appeal and/or legal challenge, the latter in particular being able to focus on the mechanics of any decision made. Applicants also have the potential to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate if delays to decision making take an application beyond its deadline for determination. Hence it is essential that a robust and timely decision making process is at the very heart of any alternative mechanisms put in place.
Until further notice all Planning and Development Committee meetings will be carried out using Zoom, and broadcast on the Borough Council's YouTube site.

Third parties are still able to participate in committee, in line with current practice. For all planning applications considered by committee there is an opportunity for one person to address the committee in favour and one against each application, along with a representative of a town or parish council. Such addresses must be no longer than three minutes. Ward councillors can address the committee for an unlimited time.

Any participant must register to speak no later than 5pm two working days before the committee meeting. An invitation to the Zoom meeting will be provided via email, with instructions for use.  This invitation should not be shared, and the opportunity to speak cannot be passed on to another party without the prior agreement of the Council.

Participants are advised to provide (by email) a written version of their intended address (max 400 words) at least 24 hours before the committee meeting. This will be read out to members by a council officer should the participant be unable to access the virtual meeting or if they encounter connectivity issues whilst delivering their address.

Find out more information regarding the Planning and Development Committee, including meetings, agendas, reports and minutes.

Covid-19 Response - General Arrangements

We still have some limitations on handling paper correspondence and as such there may be some delay to processing items received in paper.  In order for us to effectively communicate with you please use our electronic channels. Our Customer First Centre at the Town Hall is open but we advise you to call 232323 to check opening hours.

Please continue to check our Planning page which we will use to update you on further changes to our working practices, a summary of these practices are below. 

  • Planning applications should be submitted through the Planning Portal or sent to us by email if a form has been downloaded and completed.
  • Enquires should be made via email to
  • Site visits. Planning Officers are undertaking site visits following strict guidelines and ensuring social distancing can take place. If you have a planning application submitted the case officer will be in touch to arrange the necessary visit and advise on the protocol in place.

Public Access also offers a function to track applications. Find out further details on how to do this and other things via Public Access.

  • Commenting on Planning Applications. Anyone wishing to view and comment upon applications should use our Public Access website. We ask that comments be submitted through Public Access or, if need be, by email
  • Payments. Please pay through Customer First on 232323, rather than sending a cheque in the post, as we still have limited access to items received in paper and you may experience delays in processing.

To make a payment: 

  • Phone 232323 and stay on the line to speak to an advisor (the automated payments line does not handle Planning related payments).
  • When speaking to an advisor please state you are paying for a Planning Application or a Planning Enquiry.
  • The advisor should ask you for some details, name etc. Please provide the advisor with a reference number, if you have one. If not, the address to which the application or enquiry relates will be most helpful.
  • The advisor will process your payment. Please note, new payment regulation rules to increase security and prevent card fraud mean that the advisor cannot personally take your card details. You will be asked to do this yourself through your phone.

With regards to BACs payments these can still be made if necessary but should always include a reference which relates to Planning, this helps our colleagues in Accounts to tie the payment to Planning Services.


Planning Services staff thank you for your understanding and we hope you and your family stay safe and well.