The COVID-19 lockdown has caused a number of temporary changes to the way that local councils in the UK consider planning applications.
For example, the lockdown has meant big changes to the way planning committees function.
These committees are meetings of elected councillors who rule on the planning applications that have been deemed too "controversial" to be decided on by un-elected planning officers. "Controversial" means larger projects or, importantly, smaller developments where the right person can be persuaded to "call-in" the decision to the planning committee.
COVID-19 means that no face-to-face planning committees are occurring just now. Some councils have replaced them with virtual or video-conference meetings. Other councils have temporarily imposed different solutions including informal consultations with fewer councillors, such as the local councillors for the application site, plus the chair and vice-chair of the planning committee.
Either way, it is of course important to try to get planning officers to support an application first, but if that is not possible, being able to persuade councillors on a planning committee is a key target, especially when planning officers are being unhelpful.
So it's still critical to continue to engage with the appropriate elected councillors, at the right point in the process.
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