PAS Bulletin: May 2020

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May 2020

Planning Advisory Service

May 2020

It is a privileged position to be able to watch, learn and support Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) during this time. The PAS team have really enjoyed putting together our support materials and working with councils and industry friends to flex and adapt this advice as the situation changes. For a supposedly slow-moving machine, there has been a rapid response to ensure continuity of decision making across the country. Where there have been problems, we are here to help.

We are working hard to keep our COVID-19 and planning page and our FAQs updated with links to all of the Government’s latest updates.

PAS support has been the focus of our work with Lichfields on the survey of planning response to the coronavirus. We want to collect the most up-to-date and accurate information about LPAs so that we can spot both best practice and areas that might be finding all of this a lot harder for whatever reason. Using our sector-led improvement model we can then provide the most appropriate support at the right time in the right places. Please help us by making sure that the information we hold is correct. We've also been enjoying watching your virtual committee meetings that have been taking place; thanks for having us.

Take care,

Anna Rose
Head of PAS

MHCLG guidance and announcements this week

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government' (MHCLG) published new COVID-19 guidance and a general planning update - including publicity and consultation on planning applications (inclucing site notices); Community Infrastructure Levy (payment deferral); Compulsory Purchase Orders (pragmatic approaches); consultation and pre-decision matters and construction site working hours with others expected soon.

Our FAQs have been updated and we’ll publish more details as we get them. 

COVID-19 response survey and PAS support

The responses to the Lichfields’ COVID-19 survey have been fantastic. If you haven't already responded or if things have progressed please do let us know how your planning service is now operating. PAS is offering support to help LPAs to respond to the situation, particularly in helping authorities that are yet to deliver their virtual planning committees. We are keen to share the learning from the ones that have happened. We are working with our officer and member peers, so if you would like some support or advice, please get in touch at

Delivering virtual committees: new PAS fireside chats

Last time around, Martin spoke to colleagues preparing for their first virtual committee. This time he's spoken to Councillor James Denselow (LB Brent), Gerry Ansell (LB Brent), Councillor Tricia O'Brien (Liverpool) and Michael Jones (Liverpool) the day after they actually delivered their virtual planning committees. Watch as they discuss what they've learned after going 'live'.

Ecological surveys and assessments

Some of you may be concerned about determining planning applications in the absence of ecological information which has been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management has produced a guide to ecological survey and assessment in the UK during the COVID-19 outbreak. Written with the assistance of the Association of Local Government Ecologists, it will help you make decisions during the current restrictions.


Deliverability: PAS programme manager Richard Crawley uses his nom de plume to consider the recent Wokingham planning appeal decision and what the sudden shock of the pandemic might mean for"deliverability" and five year land supply

Infrastructure Delivery Plans: In a further blog Rachael at PAS reflects on the recent #Plantalk with Sara Dilmamode in the consideration of Infrastructure Delivery Plans and what if they actually delivered? This talk and our recent advice note, “Start with the spend in mind”, aim to help raise the profile of effective infrastructure planning and delivery within local authorities and importantly to encourage collaboration around a [virtual] table.

MHCLG consultation on new build dwelling statistics

MHCLG has announced an open consultation on the new build dwelling statistics. The consultation, which closes on 26 May 2020, suggests several improvements and asks whether they improve the statistics use as indicators of housing supply. Housing stats geeks will want to see what's proposed and have their say. 

Digital local plans project update

We mentioned in a previous bulletin that we were working with digital design company dxw on an early stage project (an 'alpha' in the lingo) on standardising local plan data.  We are approaching the final sprint of the project. For us, it has been fascinating to see how an entirely different way of working has delivered results quickly and in ways we did not entirely foresee. Some of the bits we thought would be hard have been easy, and other parts we thought would be simple have become difficult and troubling.  You can learn more in the week notes published by the digital land team. Our project started on 10 April 2020, and there remains one more sprint to go. Some of you have been helpful pilots for us, and we are very grateful. 

MHCLG self-build workshops

The Right to Build Task Force has been commissioned by MHCLG to run local authority workshops to support the delivery of self-build and custom homes. Workshops, which are currently being delivered as webinars, will explore opportunities to enable self and custom build locally; provide examples of good practice to inform local delivery strategies and policies; and provide advice on good practice for monitoring self-build permissions and carrying out other duties in line with the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015.

Contact the Task Force to arrange a workshop.

Interesting KHub posts

What to do if you suspect someone fiddling the results of a road survey?

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Use of videos and drone footage - the technical challenges