Planning response to coronavirus

Pre-application advice

Our pre-application service is continuing over the phone, using online conferencing and by email. Please contact us using our online form if you'd like to use this service.

New applications

The best way to submit new applications currently is electronically via the Planning Portal. Electronic applications are easy to review and validate, with us all working from home.

For the time being we have limited access to our office, however this is subject to change at short notice. Any further limitations to access will make the submission of paper applications very difficult, if not impossible – so we ask where possible that everything is submitted electronically.

Site notices will be sent to applicants to put up (with instructions) and will not be put up by officers. Neighbour letters and media advertising will happen as normal.

Site visits

We are now undertaking site visits where they are necessary for the determination of an application, subject to Covid-19 protocols. The following will occur for ‘site visits’:

  • Site visits are an important (but not necessarily essential) part of the planning process
  • Where possible our officers will rely on photos and web based images to make decisions
  • Where this is not possible, officers will speak to customers to seek more photos
  • If photos are insufficient, officers will arrange virtual site visits (whatsapp video call) with applicants, and direct applicants to the parts of a site the officer needs to see.
  • If a site visit is required, we will arrange a physical site visit. Such visits will be prearranged and subject to Covid-19 protocols that must be adhered to by all parties, in the interest of the health and safety of all involved.

Our position on site visits is under constant review.

Decision making and planning committee

As of 28 May and until further notice, planning commitee is taking place remotely, with meetings livestreamed on the CBC YouTube channel. Find out more information on this process.


Operating hours for businesses providing services to the community in response to Covid-19

At the outset of Covid-19 restriction, we decided to temporarily suspend enforcement of planning legislation and planning conditions associated with those businesses providing services to the community in response to the coronavirus (where they are operating in line with current guidance on the virus). This includes relaxing restrictions on these business such as:

  • Hours of operation (such as increasing opening hours)
  • Change of use (such as allowing pubs to operate as hot food takeaways)
  • Additional service provision
  • Delivery hours (allowing deliveries for extended hours)
  • Temporary advertising providing information related to coronavirus

This suspension will last for 12 months, unless withdrawn sooner.

Construction hours

In line with government announcement on 13 May 2020, enforcement of the council’s standard conditions limiting the hours of operation at construction sites is being temporarily relaxed. From 15/05/2020 until the end of August 2020, guidance to the construction industry regarding hours of work, subject to safeguards, is as follows:

Monday to Friday: 7am to 8pm

Saturday: 8am to 4pm

Sundays and bank holidays: no working.

The safeguards that apply to this temporary arrangement are as follows:

  • Between 7am to 7:30am and 6pm to 8pm Monday to Friday, and 1pm to 4pm on a Saturday, no noisy construction works should take place.
  • If you intend to work beyond these revised hours, please notify the council of the site address, site management contact details and proposed hours of operation (email [email protected])
  • Noise nuisance enforcement powers remain unchanged, and where a noise nuisance is found the council will continue to take appropriate action.
  • The situation will be continually monitored and reviewed and the council reserves the right, at any time, to revert to the approved hours of working which can be found on the council’s website.

Reminder on best practice:

  • In all cases, sympathetic site management should be demonstrated
  • Be considerate of local residents either working from or confined to their homes during Covid-19
  • Notify neighbours before causing disruption (in writing)
  • Notifying the council of any planned, significant disruption so we are aware and can responding accordingly ([email protected])

Temporary structures

On 9 June, we announced changes to allow temporary structures and buildings to be erected without planning permission, under certain circumstances and following an assessment.

We are taking a similar approach for the use of the highway - read the guidance.

General enforcement

For all other planning enforcement matters, we are keen to ensure that we are not putting people at risk by undertaking unnecessary site visits. Should you wish to raise an planning enforcement matter, please email [email protected] with as much information as you have (photographs, written records, times/dates etc.) of matters you wish us to investigate.

For urgent enforcement matters, we will continue to visit sites following a risk assessment.

Planning team capacity

Cheltenham Borough Council is a relatively small organisation offering a wide range of key services to the community. We are also supporting a number of partner organisations in the delivery of their key services. To ensure these key services continue, we are redeploying staff to those areas of our business. It is inevitable that redeployment will impact on the planning services ability to process applications and respond to customers. It is likely that statutory consultees may also be redeployed, further impacting on service delivery. As the situation develops, and if capacity begins to impact our ability to operate, we will update this page accordingly.

The team are now working remotely and can be contacted by email or phone.