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14/12/2021

Local authorities advised to be ready to host events virtually

Words: Laura Edgar
Virtual planning meeting / iStock-1088347334

The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) has updated its Cover-19 guidance after Prime Minister Boris Johnson enacted the government’s ‘Plan B’ to stem the spread of the Omicron variant.

Director of operations Graham Stallwood has written to local authority chief planners to remind them that they need to be ready to host virtual-only hearings and inquiries.

Since the pre-pandemic practice 13 September, wholly face-to-face events have taken place, virtual events have continued and a mixture of both have gone ahead, hosted by local planning authorities and rights of way order-making authorities.

Stallwood said: “In most cases we need you to use the reserve plans you have in place to host hearings and inquiries virtually and return to the default position of these events being held virtually, for now. There may be a small number of cases where the inspector considers the event can only proceed following a face-to-face element and they will make a case-by-case decision as to how to proceed in those cases.”

The inspectorate’s latest position on casework arrangements:

  • Site visits will continue and inspectors will adhere to government guidance on the use of face coverings.
  • Hearings and inquiries are being arranged by local planning authorities, order-making authorities and others.
  • As previously advised, local planning authorities need to be ready to host all events virtually.
  • There may be a small number of cases where the inspector considers that the event can only proceed following a face-to-face element. They will make a case-by-case decision as to how to proceed in those cases. It is the responsibility of the local planning authority to ensure that there are adequate safety measures in place as per government guidance.

PINS requests that customers inform it as soon as possible if they feel it is unsafe for an inspector to attend a site visit for any reason.

Read the letter on the UK Government website (pdf).

Image credit | iStock

 

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