Is the Planning Service still operating normally?
Staff within the department are mainly working from home. This means that we cannot operate normally. However, we are doing our best to ensure the service is running as efficiently as possible.
Can people submit planning applications?
Yes. At present, we are unable to accept paper copies of planning applications. Planning applications must be submitted via the Planning Portal. Please ensure that all the correct forms and information are included or your application may be delayed.
I am struggling to get through to the Planning Service when using the main planning line 01480 388424 - what should I do?
Our Planning Service (Development Management) is currently experiencing extremely high demand. If you are struggling to get through to this line please email DMadmin@huntingdonshire.gov.uk with the reference number of your application and/or a summary of your query in the subject line. Your query will be redirected for a staff member to deal with at the earliest opportunity.
Will there be a delay in getting planning permission? What are the timeframes for dealing with existing planning applications?
We will seek to determine current applications as soon as practicable, subject to the limitations on site visits and receiving consultation responses. Officers will work with applicants and agents to agree extensions of time where necessary. In some cases the officer may request an initial period of one month after the deadline for decision. For most applications already submitted, where appropriate and in the interest of fairness, we will aim to determine based on plans already submitted, rather than seeking amendments.
Will the council's consultation process change? How are you getting responses from consultees?
Consultation processes will mainly stay the same, with most consultations already issued electronically. There may be a delay in obtaining consultation responses from some statutory consultees and we are working with our partners and stakeholders to remove unnecessary delays from the planning process. We kindly ask that consultees respond online via our Public Access system or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You’ve consulted the town and parish councils but meetings have been suspended due to COVID-19 and government advice. What should they do?
It is likely that extensions will be required to allow town and parish councils to respond to application proposals. Town and Parish Clerks should contact the Case Officer directly to agree an extension for specific cases or contact email@example.com so this request can be forwarded to the relevant officer.
As an applicant or agent how can we get hold of Planning Officers?
If your query relates to a planning matter and where the information you are looking for is available on our Public Access system or on another online platform, we strongly encourage you to use these resources. For all other unavoidable officer contact email is suggested at this time. If you do not know the planning officer’s contact details, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and your request will be forwarded to the relevant officer.
Are officers available for site visits or site meetings?
Social distancing requirements remain in place and the Planning Service has its own internal site visit risk assessment procedures that officers are following to ensure both their and your, safety. At this time site meetings are discouraged with remote meetings used wherever possible.
What happens to cases where a site notice is required?
Where a site notice is required to commence statutory public consultation periods, this will still need to be done. Officers will post the site notice on publicly accessible land at the first available opportunity.
What happens to cases needing to be decided by Development Management Committee (DMC)?
The council’s DMC meetings are taking place virtually on Zoom once a month – the schedule of DMC meetings is available online. Please note, we are seeking to determine as many applications as possible using delegated powers. Where cases require committee decision this will take place at the earliest opportunity. Contact the case officer if you are unclear whether an application requires a committee decision and to discuss the expected date for referral.
Can I still obtain pre-application advice? Will it be delayed?
Due to current workloads we have taken the decision to temporarily suspend our discretionary pre-application advice service to enable us to prioritise the processing of current planning applications. This will run until 31st July 2021 (period subject to review). During this time, we recommend you seek advice from an independent Planning Agent to assist you or proceed directly to submitting a planning application.
We will still accept pre-application enquiries for strategic/complex developments to be agreed on a case by case basis.
My planning permission is about to expire but I can't implement the proposal due to COVID-19 restrictions. Will the council extend the period for implementing a permission?
For more information please see the COVID 19 Planning Updates page.
Will the council enforce if pre-commencement conditions are not discharged before commencement is necessary?
It is important that those seeking to start development do so in accordance with planning conditions attached to those permissions. You should seek to discharge all those conditions required to be discharged prior to commencement. If discharge is not possible due to COVIDd-19 then you should make clear why that is the case within your application to discharge conditions.
If this situation applies to you, please contact us at the earliest opportunity at email@example.com so we can begin a dialogue and see what we can do to help where we can.
Formal enforcement action remains an option for the council if other channels are exhausted.
My application has already been submitted and is being significantly delayed - can I have a refund?
We will determine current applications as quickly as possible. We are working with applicants and agents to agree extensions where necessary and reasonable to do so. Where agreement is not possible, we will either seek to determine the application or you have the right to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate on grounds of non-determination after statutory time periods have elapsed.
Refunds will not usually be given for schemes already submitted and validated, except where no decision is made within 26 weeks and no extension has been agreed.
My planning application needs an ecological survey (for example a bat survey). Do I still need to have one done?
Yes, you will still need to carry out the necessary ecological surveys at the correct time of year. Suitably qualified and professional ecologists should be operating under the guidance of their professional body CIEEM (Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management).
CIEEM has provided guidance for their members on carrying out site assessments and surveys. The most recent guidance is available on their website. Your ecologist will be able to advise you on which surveys they consider are necessary and which can be undertaken in the current circumstances.