Planning services - Coronavirus (Covid-19) update
The council not only understands the important role that the Planning System will play in assisting the recovery of the economy following the current period of social isolation, but also the importance of a planning service for smaller scale proposals for individual families and households.
The council therefore continues to operate a Development Management (Planning) service but with staff now almost entirely home-based. This has resulted in some changes to the way in which the service operates and, with the situation constantly evolving, we may need to make further changes in due course; you should revisit this page for further updates.
New permitted development rights for pubs, cafés and restaurants
The Government has introduced new permitted development rights for pubs (Use Class A4) and cafés & restaurants (Use Class A3) to operate solely for any use for the provision of hot or cold food that has been prepared for consumers for collection or delivery to be consumed, reheated or cooked by consumers off the premises (Use Class A5). This right to change the use of premises is time limited for 12 months and expires on 23 March 2021.
You will need to notify the council of this change of use; Please do so by e-mailing email@example.com , providing the address, business name, previous use and contact details. You will receive an acknowledgement from the council.
The use of the premises prior to the change of use to food takeaway will be reinstated after the use as a food takeaway has ceased.
Contacting the Planning Service
General enquiries should be made through firstname.lastname@example.org as normal. In order to ensure that you receive a response, a valid email address should be provided.
Case officers will be available by email, and this is the preferred method of contact. Contact by phone is still available either directly with the case officer or through the planning support team on 01325 405656
Wherever possible we ask that you communicate with officers via e-mail. Officers will be able to phone you back, if required and contact details are provided.
Delivery restrictions update
On Friday 13 March, the Secretary of State for Housing and Communities and Local Government issued a statement about delivery restrictions. Read the full statement [external link]
The statement sets out that local planning authorities should take a positive approach to their engagement with food retailers and distributors, as well as the freight industry, to ensure planning controls are not a barrier to food delivery over the period of disruption caused by the coronavirus.
Given the current situation, as a local planning authority, we will follow government advice and will not enforce planning restrictions on the delivery of food and other essential deliveries during this period.
Planning enforcement enquiries should be made through the council's Planning Enforcement webpage.
The service will continue to investigate alleged breaches of planning control as far as it is currently possible. Enforcement site visits will however only take place for the very highest priority cases and only where the Council is satisfied that the risk to staff and the public through the possible further transmission of the COVID-19 disease can be avoided.
Pre-application advice is a valuable tool in the Development Management process and the council is still able to offer the majority of these services. However, face to face meetings will only be held via telephone. No site visits will be conducted as part of the pre-application service; however officers will be able to consider any photographs provided. Listed Building enquiries can be emailed to email@example.com
Site visits for planning applications will not be able to be undertaken until further notice. Applicants are asked to provide comprehensive photographs of the outside and inside of a property and/or relevant views out. The case officer may contact applicants to request photographs of particular elements of the site, and from certain vistas. It may be the case that, without a site visit, some applications will not be able to be progressed at this time, and the council will consider a range of options available, including long-term extensions of time or withdrawal of the application altogether.
Applications submitted by hard copy will likely experience significant delay in processing.
Please note cheques for application fees can no longer be processed. Payment can be made as detailed on the methods of payment page.
As planning staff are currently working from home, it would assist us greatly to continue to provide a service if all submitted plans which form part of planning applications, could include key dimensions such as heights/widths of proposals and distances away from boundaries.
All representations to planning applications should be made electronically, ideally through the council's public access webpage, but if this is not possible then by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consideration of representations made solely in hardcopy cannot be guaranteed at this time.
Publicity and site notices
For the foreseeable future the council's own published protocol on the publicity of planning applications is suspended and all applications will instead be required to meet the minimum statutory requirements for publicity, as set out in the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) Order (DMPO). Given the restricted access to Darlington Borough Council offices and the need to minimise staff at that location, it will no longer be possible to send postal notifications to owners or occupiers of land adjacent to application sites.
A site notice will now be displayed for each planning application, this will be sent electronically to the owner/occupier of the site where possible, who will be asked to print and display the notice outside of the property, where it is possible to do so safely, and provide photographic proof of this.
Alternative mechanisms for displaying site notices may be considered on a site-by-site basis, where this is not possible.
In addition to the statutory required publicity for applications, the public are encouraged to register with the Public Access System .
In addition to searching, viewing and commenting on planning applications, these systems allow you to 'Track' Applications and 'Save Searches' please see the pdf document 'Public Access User Guide' available on the registration page.
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 to any contact details provided.
Delegated planning decisions (the significant majority) will continue to be issued electronically, where possible. The Government has indicated that it is looking at giving Planning Authorities other methods of determining those applications that normally require referral to the council's Planning Committee. Council will be considering all options going forward to support our communities.