As every day brings a new situation – the council is trying to respond as best it can. If you have an ongoing planning application this is the advice from East Suffolk at the moment:
East Suffolk Council remains open and appropriately staffed to ensure that the statutory functions of the Planning and Building Control services can continue.
However, in light of Government advice regarding gatherings, we have taken the decision to cancel all Planning Committee meetings (North and South) until the end of April. This will be kept under review.
There is, however, a requirement to continue making decisions on the applications that are scheduled to be determined by one of the Planning Committees, and we are developing emergency measures to ensure we have a robust process in place. When this is finalised we will publish full details of the process on our website and through other communication channels.
Regarding ongoing consultation on current planning applications, again we are considering arrangements. However, as a Council, we need to be mindful of the risks of not determining applications within the Government prescribed consultation period.
All information connected with planning applications is available online and it is for Town and Parish Councils – and other interested parties – to determine their own arrangements and respond in a timely way. Any person who has an interest in any application is able to respond in the usual manner and all responses will be picked up by the team without delay and logged against the application.
While many town and parish councils do engage with the community and seek their views, such engagement is not necessary to enable consultation responses to be provided and individual members of the public should continue to be encouraged to respond individually to enable their view to be heard.
Therefore, for the vast majority of applications, the Council does not see the need to extend the period of time to respond. However, there will be applications where exceptions need to be made which – for the avoidance of doubt – will be those of a major nature. In such circumstances please do liaise with the appointed case officer and where possible, we will look to accommodate those requests.
Planning and Building Control officers will continue to visit sites but will follow the latest guidance in terms of protecting themselves, and the public, against Covid 19. The officers are also available by phone or e-mail to discuss current and potential projects as the council sees this as an important service to support our communities and businesses. However all planned face to face meetings are cancelled until further notice.
These decisions are of course subject to change. Our approach will be under constant review and we will always take account of the latest Government advice.