COVID-19 and Planning
While Coronavirus has impacted the way in which the Planning teams work, the Council is endeavouring to maintain its planning service in these difficult times.
The Planning teams are working predominantly from home and the following changes have been made and may affect your application or an application that you are interested in:
1. Commenting on an Application
We ask that all comments are submitted electronically, this can be done via Planning Online or alternatively you can submit comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org (maximum email size of 10MB).
If you have provided comments via post there will be a delay in processing them due to staff working remotely and we cannot guarantee that hard copy comments will be received in time to be considered as part of the application.
Once the comment has been received, please allow 5 working days* for the comment to appear on Planning Online due to checking and redacting - all comments are passed to the planning officer before determination.
*We are currently receiving a very high number of comments which is causing a backlog of approx 10 working days, please accept our apologies for this delay.
For guidance please see our Commenting on a Planning Application webpage.
2. Application Forms and Supporting Information
If you have provided applications or supporting information via post there will be a delay in processing them due to staff working remotely.
Please allow 1 working day for the application to be set-up on our back office system, we will then send a confirmation letter to the Agent (if applicable)/Applicant which will include the Planning Application Number.
Fees - you must quote the planning application number when making your payment. We accept payment via the following methods:
- Cheque - made payable to Sedgemoor District Council
- BACS - it is strongly advised that you inform us if paying via this method to prevent any delay in connecting your payment to your application ( )
- Debit/Credit Card (over the phone 0300 303 7805)
Unfortunately due to volume of work there is approximately a 4 week delay in processing applications. We apologise for any inconvenience this causes but hope you could bear with us given the unprecedented situation.
3. Planning Committee
Since the conclusion of the emergency legislation which allowed Planning Committee's to take place virtually, using video/telephone conferencing Sedgemoor District Council will be commencing Hybrid Development Committees from 25th May 2021. Decision makers are required to attend in person and members of the public or press can attend either in person or virtually.
The public and press are welcome to listen in and speak at meetings in line with the normal requirements for council meetings although will need to pre-register with the Democratic Services Team (email@example.com or 0300 303 7804).
Details of the agendas for these meetings will be available approximately 1 week prior to the meeting. Further details of the agenda and dates of the meetings will be available on our website: https://www.sedgemoor.gov.uk/article/2416/Development-Committee
We recommend that you subscribe to applications that you are interested in (via our Planning Online Subscription Service); once subscribed, if the application will be considered at committee you will be notified via email, 7 days before the committee date.
4. Meetings and Site Visits
Since the relaxation of restrictions site visits will recommence subject to risk assessment and will be undertaken as part of determining planning applications. If you have submitted a pre-application enquiry it will be for the officer to confirm if a site visit is necessary or if any 'meeting' could be undertaken through virtual means.
A risk assessment will be carried out prior to visiting the site and this position will be reviewed and may be subject to change in line with changing Government guidance.
5. Site Notices
Site notices are being posted directly to applicants (if relevant, please note not all applications require a site notice); and we are asking them to display the site notice in a public location, and provide 2 (two) photographsof the site notice in situ as evidence:
- one up close
- one at distance, so the location of the notice can be confirmed
The photos should show the notice in a publically accessible location on or close to the site. It is acceptable to attach notices to lampposts, gutter pipes or boundary treatments visible from pavements or the highway close to the site. It is not acceptableto attach notices to the property or drainpipes if members of public would have to trespass to read them.
The location of the site notice will be confirmed as part of the officers site visit and will need to be in place for the duration of the publicity period.
6. Publicising and Notifications of New Planning Applications
Publication - applications will be available via the Council's Planning Online website to view and, where we are statutorily required to do so we will also publish in the local newspaper.
Neighbour Notifications - letters will be to posted to properties that directly adjoin the application site. For large scale/major applications we also place adverts in a local newspaper. You can also use our Planning Online website to search and sign up for email alerts about new applications in your area.
For most types of applications we allow a minimum of 21 days notification from:
- the date notification letters are sent to neighbours
- the date a site notice is displayed
- the date an advertisement appears in a local paper
Statutory consultees are normally given 21 days.
The notification and consultation periods are calculated from the date when we last notified or consulted. This means that after the notification letters are sent to residents the consultation period could be extended depending on the timing of the press advert and site notice. The date when the consultation period ends is shown on our Planning Online website as the 'Comments Welcome By' date.
7. How long will it take to get a decision on your application
Because of the above restrictions, it may take longer to determine your application.
Our officers and support team continue to work incredibly hard to validate, assess and determine applications. Your patience at this time would be appreciated as increased email traffic can have the counter effect of its intention.
8. Planning Enforcement
In the current climate, we are operating at a reduced staffing level. Assessments of the breach you have reported may take longer than normal. We may request further information from you to aid in the investigation; such as clarification of the location and details of the alleged breach.
We are considering enquiries on a case by case basis and depending on the priority and the ability to meet Government Guidance. The recent Ministerial Statement (March 2021) sets out the below:
- Where there are planning restrictions on retail opening hours, local planning authorities are encouraged to not seek to undertake enforcement action which would result in unnecessary restriction of retail hours between 7am to 10pm, Monday to Saturday from Step 2 of the roadmap (no earlier than 12 April) until the introduction of Step 4 of the roadmap (scheduled for no earlier than 21 June) to support the safe reopening of non-essential retail shops;
- The current Written Ministerial Statement about planning enforcement and the delivery of food and other essential goods to retailers will be extended until Step 4 of the roadmap (scheduled for no earlier than 21 June); and
- The current Written Ministerial Statement encourages flexible construction working hours will remain in place until 30 September 2021.
For further details, please see our Planning Enforcement webpage.
9. Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)
Please submit all documents to us electronically via email to firstname.lastname@example.org for the attention of our S106/CIL Monitoring Officer.
If you have provided CIL forms or supporting information via post there will be a delay in processing them due to staff working remotely.
10. Site History Searches / Microfiche Enquires
Unfortunately, we are currently unable to access any documents that may be archived on our Microfiche files or held in our file store and therefore cannot process these requests.
If your enquiry is relating to a historic application please email email@example.com as we may be able to check if the file is stored digitally.
We apologies for any inconvenience caused.
11. Temporary Permitted Development Rights and Temporary Extensions to Delivery/Construction Hours
- The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Order 2021 To further support the hospitality sector as the economy reopens, Government have created a temporary permitted development right to allow pubs, restaurants and cafes to erect temporary moveable outdoor structures until end of 1st January 2022. For the first time, this will also apply to listed buildings provided there is no harm to the heritage asset. ( https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2021/467/article/2/made )
- Temporary rights for the holding of a market by or on behalf of a local authority has been extended until 23 March 2022 which allows for the erection of associated structures for an unlimited number of days. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/1243/regulation/7/made
- Provision has been made for an additional number of days (up to 28 days) in which land can be used temporarily for holding a market and motor car/cycle racing, 2021. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/1243/regulation/4/made