Planning & COVID-19

Helpful resources for planners thinking about how to change and improve services in response to COVID-19.

We’ve archived our PAS Covid FAQs.
Our Covid FAQs were published at a time of exceptional change and it was necessary to provide comprehensive and dynamic advice on how to do ‘planning in a pandemic’. While things are arguably just as unpredictable, we are operating in a (new) normality where councils have mature processes, procedures and communications for responding to the changing requirements of working and planning during a pandemic.  

So we have archived our FAQs. We produced specific guidance during the early part of the Pandemic – particularly for the setting up and operating of virtual/hybrid committees and that is still available here. 

Legislation affecting Planning that is about to expire
There is Government legislation that affects planning that is about to expire on 31st December 2021. PAS is not aware of any plans by the government to change or issue new legislation but we have highlighted the key items below and included our view. 

About to expire:

Time-limited permitted development rights – supporting the health service bodies and local authorities’ immediate response to coronavirus.

PAS View: Arguably the most important of the legislation about to expire and difficult to imagine that this isn’t being considered as a matter of urgency given the ongoing and changing nature of the Pandemic. We’ll update things here iwhen we know more.

Planning Applications - publicity and consultation / Local Plans – requirement to make copies available online and hard copies available in principal offices

PAS View:  we’ve not picked up too much concern about these items. from local planning authorities. Most councils now have their offices open (albeit with restrictions to access) so won’t find an issue with this legislation expiring. To be thorough, any council that is restricting or closing access to its principal offices should communicate clearly with the public where hard copies of documentation is available and or alternative means of obtaining them e.g. by post. 

Virtual Meetings:

Emergency legislation covering virtual council meetings in England expired on 7th May 2021. In December 2021 Government advice following the emergence of the Covid variant ‘Omicron’ regarding the wearing of masks and working from home has meant some of the concerns about meeting face-to-face are resurfacing. The LGA voiced local government concerns here.

The Government has published guidance on the safe use of council buildings. There was also a call for evidence “to understand the experience of local authorities in the whole of the UK regarding remote meetings” which ran between March and June 2021 – the results/outcomes of this are not known at present.