COVID-19 Planning Services: Current Working Arrangements –
Development Management service update – October 2021
We have maintained an excellent and responsive planning service throughout the period of the pandemic. However, coinciding with staff turnover and vacancies, an increase in the number of pre-application enquiries and planning applications submitted, is the further challenge associated with navigating the recent phosphate guidance relating to our rivers. This has now impacted on our service delivery. Whilst we have a dedicated team of professionals all doing their very best, we recognise that this is insufficient to meet current demand.
We appreciate that many of you are experiencing frustration and delay when accessing our planning services. This is not how we want to operate. It’s less than ideal for you and it’s not ideal for us either.
Mr Julian Stedman, Chair of Planning Access and Rights of Way Committee, said: “We ask our residents to bear with us; we know it is frustrating, but these delays are being experienced across the country and are beyond our control. There is no immediate solution presently, although we are exploring many options to help ease the burden which in turn will allow us to regain the same level of accessibility as in the past. It is extremely busy, and we are working on all applications in date order. So, it would help us if you do not follow-up your application by phone or email, as our response will take up time that could be spent on progressing work”.
Our planning applications will continue to be viewable on line, however uploading every piece of correspondence between the applicant or agent and officers is time consuming as it needs to be checked and redacted for data protections reasons, so at this difficult time you may notice less emails than usual uploaded on a particular file. Please rest assured however that we remain committed to a clear and transparent process and all correspondence relating to any substantive issue plus any supporting documents or reports will be uploaded.
Over the next 2 -3 months we will keep the situation under review and if capacity increases as a result of the measures we have put in place we will be able to gradually return to more normal service delivery. Please keep an eye out on this webpage for further updates.
Thank you for taking the time to read this update. Any feedback would of course be welcome.
Frequently asked questions;
Will officers continue to be contactable?
You may get a standard message via email or a recoded voice mail message explaining that we can’t deal with your message right now due to volume of work but we will be progressing your application and will respond to you as soon as we are able.
Will my application take longer?
We endeavour to deal with all applications as quickly as possible, but for the reasons set out above it may take longer than normal and we will continue asking agents and applicants for extensions of time.
Is Planning Surgery still operating?
Unfortunately, we have taken the decision to suspend our free planning surgery for householders for a further 3 months due to the lack of officer capacity. We understand that this service is very valuable to householders and we are keeping the situation under review. An alternative to this service is to submit a Certificate of Lawful Proposed Use to establish if planning permission is required https://www.planningportal.co.uk/wales_en/info/5/applications/58/consent_types/9
Is the Pre application advice service available?
Yes, our pre-application and statutory pre-application services are available, but again it may take longer than set out in our guidance. We will provide a response as soon as possible. Details can be found here:- Charging for Pre-Application Planning Advice | Brecon Beacons National Park Authority (beacons-npa.gov.uk)
Updated 7th June 2021
- The Authority is not able to receive cash, cheque or telephone card payments due to the impact of the crisis. Payment for planning applications and pre-planning enquiries can be made via the planning portal or alternatively by BACS transfer.
Planning fees should be paid at the time of submitting your planning application. Please note we are unable to accept purchase orders and we are unable to send out invoices in respect of planning application fees. Any other remittances or other financial queries should be sent by email to email@example.com
Enforcement complaint forms can be downloaded from our website at www.beacons-npa.gov.uk/planning/enforcement-monitoring and submitted to us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Site visits are being undertaken where possible and in line with the above precautions
We will continue to progress existing cases and whilst we will endeavour to respond to urgent matters, the timescales within the Authority’s Planning Enforcement Charter are temporarily suspended during the Coronavirus crisis. If you wish to enquire about an existing enforcement matter please e-mail email@example.com
Policy and Heritage
Policy, Heritage and Ecology Officers will continue to provide expert advice on planning and related applications and enforcement matters. As stated above Officers may be in contact separately to discuss site visit arrangements or to request photographs of a site. If you have a query about a policy, heritage or ecology matter please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Local Development Plan
The National Park Authority is currently still working on our replacement Local Development Plan (LDP2) although our timetable has been severely disrupted by the pandemic and now phosphate issues, we anticipate that the next phase of the LDP development will be reviewed in September 2021.
If you would like to become a consultee to the Local Development Plan review please email LDP@beacons-npa.gov.uk.
We are closely monitoring Welsh Government guidance with regard to potential new measures to support the planning process in response to the current situation and will update the website as and when any changes occur.
Please be assured that the Planning Department will do its best to continue with the Service during these uncertain times, however your patience, understanding and assistance would be greatly appreciated.