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PINS issues Covid-19 advice

Words: Laura Edgar
Advice / iStock-945423310

The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) has issued guidance about site visits, hearings, inquiries and events in England and Wales amid the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) and the government’s advice on social distancing.

Staff working at the inspectorate have been told to avoid “unnecessary travel or non-essential travel”, which may result in some events being cancelled.

“We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause, but can assure you that we are considering alternative arrangements,” states a message on the PINS website. Anyone with an urgent enquiry is advised to email their case officer.

Guidance is being kept under review and will be updated in accordance with the government’s advice.

PINS has published guidance, which is up to date as of 18 March 2020, on planning appeals, Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) applications, local plan examinations, rights of way, and Commons Act 2006.

In a statement sent to The Planner, a spokesperson for the Planning Inspectorate said: “In light of the advice from central government, the Planning Inspectorate has postponed all inquiries, hearings and accompanied site visits due to take place over the coming weeks.”

“We are continuing to process cases where events have already taken place. We are exploring whether appeals can be determined through written submissions and an unaccompanied site visit but will only do so if we consider that the Inspector has or can be provided with all the information and evidence they need to make a properly informed decision and no one is prejudiced. “

Current advice includes that if the inspector is able to travel to the site without using public transport, site visits can go ahead on an unaccompanied basis. The main parties will also be invited to consider whether visits can proceed on an unaccompanied basis, or whether arrangements can be made for the inspector to access the site in a way that avoids social contact. 

Visitors that require the inspector to be accompanied will not proceed until it is safe to do so.

Full details of the advice issued by PINS can be found here.

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