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 avoiding visiting sites unless absolutely necessary (for example for urgent enforcement matters) – we do not want our customers and staff to be exposed to situations which could spread disease nor do we wish to place additional demands on emergency services. 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 still required, we will seek extensions of time for those applications as opposed to visiting sites

Inevitably this is likely to have an impact on our ability to process some applications.

Decision making and planning committee

For the time being, regulatory planning decisions that would normally be made by the planning committee will be made by officers. Find out more.

 All other decisions will be made in the normal way.

Weekly list of planning applications validated

 The applications on this list are available to view and comment online by clicking on the blue underlined URL for each application.

Enforcement

On Friday last week, 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.

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 planningenforcement@cheltenham.gov.uk 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.