In this last full week of March 2020, the UK Parliament passed a new law called the Coronavirus Act 2020. This covers various aspects of public life, including some relating to planning applications.
The main takeaway is that the planning functions of local councils will continue. All planning applications are considered by elected councillors in one way or another, and the new Coronavirus Act enables these councillors to meet online rather than all in one physical meeting room. This will enable planning applications to be progressed almost as normal.
The Coronavirus Act does mean that elections and other public votes will be suspended until May 2021. Neighbourhood Development Plans usually further restrict building opportunities, and these require a local public vote to come into force. So the suspension of all public votes means there now exists an extended window of opportunity for many people to get the planning permission they want.
This may be one reason why there appears to be an increase in planning applications being submitted just now. The current surge may also be because people want to get their applications considered before any slow-down in processing which may occur in the summer. Also, the Coronavirus crisis means more people are wanting to move forward with their plans to change their living arrangements or to diversify their income or to free up some capital.
If you'd like to act quickly or even if you just need some impartial advice about getting planning permission, drop us a line. We'd be happy to help.