The Building Standards Service, is still currently operating a restricted service insofar as site inspections are concerned. However, as lock-down is eased, we hope to be able to carry out more site visits and inspections although, initially, only where classed as essential.
As has been previously indicated, in the April update, we 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 are treating 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. Further guidance on-site inspections will be posted up on the building standards web pages in the near future but contact us if you have any specific questions.
Construction sites: hours of operation
As the country has moved through the Route map to recovery (Opens in a new window or downloads a file), the Chief Planner has issued various letters of guidance (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) on the relaxation of planning controls in certain circumstances.
The guidance for construction sites (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) hours of operation, may be of particular interest and is summarised below.
Recent COVID-19 restrictions have impacted on the operation of construction sites in Scotland. As development sites return to work, the Chief Planner in Scotland has issued a range of guidance.
The most recent guidance encourages Planning Authorities to be supportive of reasonable changes and requests by developers to extend construction site working hours to allow contractors to accommodate shift patterns required for ‘social distancing’ on sites and during transport to/from sites but also to allow stalled projects to recover time lost on contractual programmes.
No national standard on working hours has been set as circumstances will vary across construction sites, for example due to their location, stage of development and the nature of operations being carried out.
The Planning and Environmental Health services of the Comhairle will exercise the discretion arising from the Chief Planner guidance fairly and reasonably taking into account the positive benefits of development work being completed within reasonable adjusted programmes alongside potential public health implications for site staff together with impacts on neighbour amenity.
Working hours can theoretically be extended to allow working from 7am through to 9pm, Monday to Saturday; however, for sites located close to existing housing, this degree of flexibility has to be exercised reasonably.
We ask that particularly loud operations being undertaken on sites located close to existing housing be restricted and avoid the hours between 7am to 9am, and 5pm to 9pm so far as is possible, to limit noise impacts on neighbours, in particular the elderly and those with young children.
We strongly encourage the good practice of notifying neighbours e.g. by door to door leaflet drop/contacting any community association, to advise them in advance of any intended change to site working hours and the reasoning for that change. You should include details of a named contact/number for neighbours to make direct contact with site if they have concerns. Our experience is that if people are made aware of changes, and the reason for them, before they happen, this greatly reduces the risk of complaints to Planning and Environmental Health.
Notwithstanding, the above ‘relaxations’, developers are reminded that the Comhairle is required to investigate any unsocial noise complaints received in terms of the Control of Pollution act 1974. If, following investigation, complaints are found to be justified the first steps will always be to aim to resolve the matters informally; however as a backstop the legislation allows the Comhairle to exercise its pollution control remit and to set the times during which work may be carried out and the methods of work to be used.
There have been some recent changes to the staffing of the Development Management Team and for the next period area responsibilities will change.
Anne Napier, an experienced planner joined our team on 2 March 2020. Anne brings a wealth of planning experience having worked in Development Management in both urban and rural Councils in East Anglia and more recently with the Planning Inspectorate across England. The team are very pleased to have Anne join us to and we trust you, our development community, will join us in welcoming her.
Mairi MacKinnon, our longest serving Planning Officer with almost 33 years’ service, decided to retire from the Service and the Comhairle at the end of June. Mairi has made a valued contribution to the Outer Hebrides over her years of service. We wish her well with her future plans.
Alastair Banks, another experienced Planner with many years of service in Planning across the Outer Hebrides, retires in Early September. Alastair will finish at work in early August and has many interests and crofting projects awaiting his attention. We wish Alastair well with his future plans and hope he enjoys the freedom.
Area responsibilities have been revised to accommodate the staffing complement in the short term.
Service continuity - office based working and meetings
The staff of the Planning Service have largely worked from home over the past 4 months and this is likely to continue as an option for some time. The technology has worked well and we are grateful for the support of our IT staff for their contribution to keeping the Service running smoothly. The Comhairle Offices are likely to remain closed for customers for a further period, but staff may now undertake site visits and, subject to safety protocols, meet customers on sites.
Telephone calls will remain routed to a voice mailbox but are then routed onwards to staff who are using their own phones to return calls. All staff have Microsoft Teams and can schedule either voice or video calls to discuss projects. You do not need to have a Microsoft Account to join a call. An email address and smartphone or tablet are all that you require.
Pre-application advice - Online Resources
We would remind and encourage developers to make best use of on-line resources for generic planning queries. A list of hyperlinks to helpful guidance is included at the end of this bulletin. Planning Officers will continue to provide area based and site specific planning advice.
There are a number of Development Management staff with plans to take annual leave over the month of August. Please bear with us, if it takes a little longer to get back to you.
Development Planning and Marine Planning
Outer Hebrides Local Development Plan
Following the adoption of the Outer Hebrides Local Development Plan (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) (LDP) in November 2018, the Development Plan team is looking now to put in place a monitoring framework to assess the operation and usefulness of the Development Plan. In line with current, and new, legislation emerging from the Planning Act 2019 effective Plan monitoring is vital in informing any new LDP.
Under the 2019 Planning Act there is a new process for preparing and engaging on a new LDP. Formal regulations on this is still to published, however the LDP is moving to a 10 year Plan cycle with scope for interim reviews of elements of the Plan. Other new aspects of the Development Plan that the Comhairle is likely to engage on include scope for communities to prepare Local Place Plans, which subject to content and preparation processes, could be reflected in the LDP.
Development Plan Scheme
The Comhairle has recently approved and will publish online its Development Plan Scheme (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) (DPS). The DPS is the annual statement setting out the ongoing work programme to deliver and maintain the Development Plan. (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) The DPS also sets out how the Development Plan team will seek to engage and consult with the public and stakeholders on any relevant pieces of Development Plan work including draft Supplementary Guidance in the current Covid situation.
Supplementary Guidance (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) which forms part of the Development Plan provides more detailed or technical policy on some areas of development and can be statutory or non-statutory. The Planning Service has prepared and is finalising revised supplementary guidance for Marine Fish Farming and Wind Energy Development for consultation. In addition new or further supplementary guidance on areas including Minerals, Conservation Areas, and Caravans, Huts and Temporary Buildings are also being prepared. Meantime the existing adopted Guidance apply.
Conservation Area Grants – Buildings and Painting Grant Schemes
The Comhairle administers a series of grant schemes applicable to the four conservation areas in the Outer Hebrides: Stornoway; Gearrannan; Ruisgarry; and Howmore. These schemes aim to offset the additional costs associated with works specific to the conservation area. Further information on these grant schemes and the conditions that apply (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) is available online. Potential applicants are encouraged to speak with the Planning Service before submitting an application, with regards to eligibility and any necessary planning consent.
Thatching Grant Scheme
Due to its perishable nature, a traditional Scottish Thatched roof will rapidly deteriorate unless it is regularly maintained. Historic Scotland encourages owners of historic and traditional thatched buildings to maintain and repair them by providing grants for the maintenance of thatched roofs under the Historic Environment Support Fund, which is administered by the Comhairle, within the Outer Hebrides. The scheme provides grant funding to meet a proportion of the cost of repairing and maintaining traditional roof structures. This can include re-thatching, replacement of top coats, repairs and associated minor works to roofing divots and roof timbers. Information on the thatching grant scheme and eligibility (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) is available online or you can contact Hannah Morrison by email email@example.com
For further information on any Development Plan matters or the Grants highlighted please contact the Development Plan and Marine Planning team on 01851 822690 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Email is the most direct method of communication currently as all officers are working remotely from home.
Housing Land Audit
In line with legislation the Comhairle will be seeking to prepare a new Housing Land Audit towards the end of 2020. This seeks to identify and assess potential sites to accommodate house building. Further information on this and how to get involved if you know of potential land will be published in due course.
The Planning Service customer satisfaction questionnaire (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) is available through Survey Monkey. Copies can also be collected at Comhairle offices or just contact us if you would like us to send you a copy. Your comments help us to improve the service we provide. The Planning Service customer survey results are published on the Customer Survey (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) webpage.
The Comhairle Planning Performance Framework, which shows the Performance of the Planning Service and areas for improvement, is available on the Planning Performance Framework (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) webpage.
For Quarter 3 of 2019/20 (01 Oct – 31 Dec), 87% of Building Warrants were responded to within 15 days and 91% of warrants were issued within 6 days. In terms of Certificates of Completion, 89% were responded to within 9 days. The target for these indicators is 85% in each case.
For Quarter 4 of 2019/20 (01 Jan – 31 Mar), 93% of Building Warrants were responded to within 15 days and 92% of warrants were issued within 6 days. In terms of Certificates of Completion, 86% were responded to within 9 days. The target for these indicators is 85% in each case.
The Scottish Government has issued its summary of Planning Performance by the Comhairle in the context of Scottish Planning Authorities. Statistical bulletins give the Latest Information on Planning Authority Performance (Opens in a new window or downloads a file).
Contact Details / Area Responsibilities
Preparation of Planning Applications: Validation and Determination Guidance (») (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)
Submitting Planning Applications: ePlanning.scot (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)
Viewing Planning Applications: Comhairle Public Access (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)
Scottish Government Planning and Architecture (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)
Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)
Planning Aid for Scotland (PAS) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)
Historic Environment Scotland (HES) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)
Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)
Marine Scotland (Marine and Fisheries) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)
Scottish Water (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)
01851 822692 (Stornoway)
01870 604990 (Balivanich)
01851 822690 (Stornoway)
01870 604990 (Balivanich
Development Plan and Marine Planning
01851 822690 (Stornoway)
01870 604990 (Balivanich)