Wealden District Council
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Planning Services – Coronavirus (Covid-19) Update

Planning Service Update

While an announcement has been made that all Covid restrictions in England have ended we have listened to our employees and we know a lot of people remain cautious.

The Planning Service has brought forward new ways of working so our staff can work remotely with the intention of keeping our staff and residents safe.

Site Visits

Site visits will continue to take place. If you or anyone on site has tested positive for COVID or is showing any symptoms please advise the officer in advance or as soon as practical. 

Mask-wearing will no longer be expected, if you prefer to wear a mask, please continue to do so. We ask everyone to use your discretion and continue to give due regard to the safety and comfort of others.

If an internal inspection is necessary (note that we may request photographs, certificates, additional information as appropriate) then as a precaution:

  • Windows should be opened 30 minutes before arrival and left open after our visit. We will ask you to confirm this has been done
  • Officers are empowered to make decisions as to whether to inspect or whether not to inspect
  • Please ensure all doors and hatches are left open to avoid surface contact

Applicants are still asked to provide comprehensive photographs of the outside and inside of a property and/or relevant views out. To facilitate this and to assist with case assessments  the case officer may contact applicants to request photographs of particular elements of the site, and from certain vistas. We will also consider video footage where applicable.

If we are unable to visit a site, we will explain the reason why. If it is likely that without a site visit an application will not be able to be progressed we will consider a range of options available including long-term extensions of time or withdrawal of the application altogether.

If you are promoting a Prior Notification case which requires liaison with adjacent residents or other publicity and we cannot fully assess the scheme we will invite you to agree to an extension or time in order to avoid rejecting cases

From 22nd July 2020 the Government have introduced new regulations making it possible to apply to defer a CIL payment subject to a number of criteria. For more information please see our page Paying for CIL and COVID-19

General enquiries should be made through planning@wealden.gov.uk as normal. In order to ensure that you receive a response, a valid email address should be provided. A reduced post service is being sent from the Planning Service.

Case officers will be available by email, and this is the preferred method of contact. Contact by phone is still available although staff are working flexible hours, and therefore we would ask that wherever possible you communicate with officers via e-mail. Officers will be able to phone you back, if required and contact details are provided.

Our twitter feed @WDC_Planning provides news, updates and information from the Planning department however this account is not always monitored. Please send all messages to planning@wealden.gov.uk

We have experienced a spike in caseloads and with correspondence associated in all casework.  There maybe some delays, but please bear with us: we are working as fast as possible to maintain our services.

(UPDATE 19th July 2021)

Our Enforcement Strategy document sets out how we operate.

Enforcement site visits will only take place for the very highest priority cases where there is a risk to life or property and only where the council is satisfied that the risk to the public through the possible further transmission of COVID can be avoided.

For tree works, we will process casework where it is possible to do so without a physical visit. An example might be where a tree can be wholly seen from the public realm and is not close to a building (or adjacent land) necessitating visit to consider from that viewpoint. Where we issue a tree decision without a physical visit, the case assessment will fully explain why the specific circumstances justify this approach (UPDATE: 19th July 2021)

Should you have concerns over Coastal Works, Engineering and Tree Matters please contact the planning department, by e-mailing planning@wealden.gov.uk

Pre-application advice is a valuable tool in the Development Management process and the council is still able to offer majority of these services. Visit the pre-application advice pages for further information

The preferred method of submission is via the Planning Portal or by e-mail.

Any applications submitted by hard copy will likely experience significant delay in processing because of the ability process incoming post to our office.

Please note cheques for application fees can no longer be processed. Payment can be made on the Planning payments  web page.

We encourage all representations made for planning applications electronically, either through the council’s online application register of applications, or by e-mail to planning@wealden.gov.uk.

This is the fastest and most efficient way to submit comments.

The methods that the Council will use to publicise applications include the following:

  • Publishing applications and associated documents on the Council’s website;
  • Displaying one or more (as relevant) site notices near the application site. The site notice will provide details of the planning application, information on how the plans can be viewed and how comments can be made and when comments must be submitted by;
  • Advertising certain applications in local newspapers in accordance with statutory requirements.

Please see our page how we notify on Planning Applications

During COVID the government introduced legislation allowing the use of websites and social media to publicise applications. In light of that, where a planning application has been submitted the public will need to register against the application number using the function available on the online register. In addition to searching, viewing and commenting on planning applications, the system allows you to subscribe for email updates either when the status of the application changes or new documents are added to the website – please see the our pages on Keeping up to date with Planning Applications and How You Can Be Involved In The Planning Process.

Please note the Council will use these features to notify the public of changes or revisions to proposals. Registration is free although an active e-mail account is required.

Officers will need to consider whether amended plans require publicity and new amendments submitted in the current period of self-isolation may need publicity, and may therefore not be capable of being advanced to decision for the foreseeable future. 

Please liaise with your case officer or the relevant Area Team Leader by e-mailing planning@wealden.gov.uk.

Our twitter feed @WDC_Planning  provides news, updates and information from the Planning department, though please send all messages to planning@wealden.gov.uk.

Officers of the planning service will not be conducting face-to-face meetings until further notice. Officers are contactable via email and can make outgoing phone calls as well as use video conferencing facilities.

The government is clear that a well-functioning planning system is as important now as ever. Decisions and actions being taken now are vital to the District’s health, well-being and economic recovery. What we do in planning is vital to all of those objectives in the short and the long-term.

To ensure the Council is able to continue to make effective and transparent decisions and to assist with on going recovery from COVID the Council has a wide ranging Officer Scheme of Delegation. This can be see on full on our website

For more information please visit our pages on Planning Committee South or Planning Committee North.