Planning a way through the COVID-19 pandemic


28th May 2020

Despite a national lockdown and all the necessary restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 response, Angus Council is continuing to support the local economy by ensuring its planning system continues to operate swiftly and effectively.

Emergency legislation, supported by guidance from Scotland’s Chief Planner, has tried to manage and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on planning and development. Angus Council’s move to agile and enabling staff to work from home in recent years has ensured that the switch to home working during the lockdown has been virtually seamless.

Measures have been put in place to continue to meet statutory requirements. Whilst paper applications and representations can still be received by post, it is easier for the Council to receive information electronically. Around nine out of ten applications are now made electronically in Angus and applicants, agents and members of the public are being encouraged to contact the Planning Service in this way.

Site visits have been suspended due to travel and social distancing restrictions but in some cases officers have been able to inspect sites in other ways using aerial imagery or mapping tools. In a small number of cases, a site visit will be essential and will be undertaken as soon as national guidance allows.

As a result of actions taken, the Council can receive, validate, consult on, and determine the majority of applications.

From the start of lockdown to 1 May, the Council’s planning service validated 91 applications and determined 79 – that is more applications validated and determined than in the same period a year ago. The time to determine a local application has also reduced slightly and, at an average of 6.1 weeks, is currently a full three weeks faster than the Scottish average.

Development Standards Convener, David Lumgair said: “The way in which the planning service has adapted to the extraordinarily difficult circumstances set within the coronavirus response has been inspirational and, moreover, vital to the future well-being of Angus.

“Their continuing high standards of performance in the teeth of this global emergency will ensure that the impact of this prolonged crisis and any associated restrictions on the development pipeline on the Angus economy is minimised. As we battle through these exceptional times and beyond, supporting and increasing development will be essential to getting our local economy working again.

“Scotland’s Chief Planner recognised that local authorities planning services have a crucial part to play within this immediate emergency and beyond. He called upon councils to be prepared to adopt new approaches, measure risk and take a pragmatic view of how we can best continue to plan and make decisions vital to the recovery of our communities and businesses.

“I’m pleased to say that Angus Council was well-prepared and is determined to do all that it can to support our people and our businesses through this crisis to ensure our future health and economic prosperity.”

Online committee meetings have been held, allowing for decisions to be taken on any applications or matters that are viewed as necessary or time critical. This has been further reinforced by delegating certain authorities to the Service Lead of Planning and Communities.

Online systems have been put in place so that people can check to see if their development project required planning permission and to seek pre-application advice.

The Council had intended to charge for this, but this has been put on hold to reduce the impact on the development industry. The service attracted 75 enquiries in just over a month.

Advice on whether Building Warrant approval is needed for certain works is also available from the Council’s Building Standards team who are continuing to receive applications, issue Building Warrants and carry out virtual inspections, where possible.

Angus Council

Angus Council works to create strong secure communities, an enterprising workforce, and sustainable development over the range of public services for which it has responsibility. We are a customer and citizen focused organisation and work to deliver accessible, effective and efficient services for the county\'s population.

Back to news