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Planning Inspectorate charts route out of lockdown

Words: Huw Morris

Plans to resume in-person events have been unveiled by the Planning Inspectorate (PINs) as it charts a route out of lockdown for its operations. 

The lifting of lockdown restrictions heralds “a new phase of continued caution, learning to live with the virus and the risks”, said PINS, as it works through the implications for its casework and workforce.

As restrictions lift from today (19 July), office-based PINs staff will work some of their hours from the Temple Quay House headquarters in Bristol. Virtual hearings and inquiries organised until 10 September will continue as planned to avoid disruption and potential confusion.

However, hearings and inquiries taking place from 13 September will revert to the pre-pandemic approach of being arranged by local authorities.

In-person events will need to be facilitated by the local authority, even where participants including the inspector need to present their evidence or take part virtually, said PINs. Where in-person elements are planned, the local authority must be prepared for the event to be held fully virtually in case pandemic restrictions are reimposed, it warned.

The inspectorate is also consulting staff, stakeholders and customers about how hearings and inquiries should work in the longer term. Events run by local authorities from 13 September will provide “valuable evidence to help shape our thinking” on the balance to be struck between physical and virtual events, PINs added.

Image credit | Salivanchuk-Semen, Shutterstock