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Covid-19: Officers at Welsh council to decide all applications

Words: Roger Milne
Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire / Shutterstock_466675595

Pembrokeshire County Council has approved measures triggered by the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak that mean officers will be able to decide planning issues. This includes all planning applications normally considered by the planning committee.

Although the planning committee will not be involved, a protocol accompanying this radical move allows for the cabinet member with responsibility for planning, as well as the chair and vice-chair of the planning committee, to see and comment on the case officer’s report and any proposed conditions or terms.

There will be a 72-hour period for these members to consider, comment and if necessary, object to what is proposed. In some circumstances the decision could be referred to the council’s urgency committee.

Under these proposals planning issues, which will include the issue of certificates of lawfulness, the serving of contravention notices and requirements to execute urgent works will be dealt with by the director of community services or an authorised planning officer.

The new arrangements will be in place for two months and will be subject to review by the chair of the urgency committee. They will cease when the planning committee is able to reconvene as usual or is able to meet remotely.  

Promised but yet-to-be-published regulations are required from the Welsh Government under the terms of the UK Government’s coronavirus legislation before the planning committee can convene remotely.

Monday’s specially convened meeting of the council’s urgency committee also agreed that the formal site visit over controversial plans for a hotel – a key element of the regeneration of Pembroke’s waterfront – would not now go ahead but further representations on the scheme will be considered up to 15 April.

Image credit | Shutterstock