April 2020

Page Last Updated : Wednesday, 02 August, 2023 02:03 PM

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

In line with national advice and guidelines and in common with other office-based staff of the Comhairle, Planning and Building Standards staff are now working from home.  Whilst this raises challenges and change for us all, we nevertheless aim to maintain our services operational in order to assist the recovery of the development industry once the necessary restrictive measures are lifted.

We will act in accordance with any further standard guidance that comes from Government and any temporary or short-term changes to Planning/Building Standards or wider legislation as necessary in relation to the delivery of the Comhairle’s Planning and Building Standards functions.

How to Contact Us

All officers now have remote access to their work email and our casework systems.  Email is the preferred method of contact for this period.  The direct dial phone numbers for both Balivanich and Stornoway have been diverted to a Voice IP mailbox.

The generic email addresses and phone numbers are:

  • Balivanich – Planning and Building Standards – 01870 604990
  • Stornoway – Planning Service – 01851 822690
  • Stornoway – Building Standards – 01851 822692

Voice IP messages and emails to the generic mailbox will be reviewed by the support staff and forwarded to the case officers for attention.  The case officers do not have work mobile phones and therefore return of business calls from their personal mobiles is at their discretion.  They are advised to use the prefix of 141 to protect their personal number and therefore any call will appear on your phone as ‘No Caller ID’.  All emails or telephone messages should provide clearly your name and telephone number and the location of the site to which your call refers and if known the case officer and case reference.

Electronic Submissions

It is very important that, all applications, subsequent information and documentation is captured and recorded in a robust manner.

Therefore, all applications and subsequent documentation should be submitted through the Scottish Government eDevelopment Portal (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

All staff email mailboxes have limited capacity and, depending on where people live, limited broadband capacity.  We ask that the Portal be used as the default position.  If you are unable to do so and need to send post submission documents or reports by email, only then should you email them to us via the generic email addresses above.

Paper applications sent by mail to the Comhairle Office will be uplifted weekly but as these require scanning there will be some unavoidable delays to paper applications and subsequent reports.

Fee payments

We are currently unable to process cheques or cash payments.  The preferred method of fee payments is for them to be made through the Portal at the time of submitting the application.  If you are unable to do so and a payment is due, please select the Planning or Building Warrant Account option within the Comhairle On-line Payments.

Site Visits and Inspections

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) prohibit any person from leaving the place they are living without a reasonable excuse, and ban public gatherings of more than two people.

Planning site visits are therefore restricted and only carried out if absolutely necessary and then only if possible within the current social distancing guidelines.  Inter-island site visits will not be possible during this initial period.  The Planning Service encourages the submission of site photographs and may contact applicants requesting photographs as these may suffice in some cases.

The Building Standards Service, will seek to ensure as far as possible, that proposed occupancy and use of new or refurbished buildings, subject to a building warrant, is not prevented by the current situation.  We will treat requests for completion inspections, on a ‘risk assessed’ basis and will work with the ‘relevant person’ to ensure adequate safety measures are in place, in accordance with current guidelines, before an inspection is undertaken.

We hope to maintain our services as near normal as possible and appreciate your patience and co-operation whilst these special restrictions are in place.