Site Visits During Lockdown

31st March 2020

An aspect of the planning application assessment process which is difficult to do from your desk is the site visit. Both Local Planning Authorities and the Planning Inspectorate are now undertaking site visits where these can be done in line with Covid-19 restrictions. Primarily these are taking place as unaccompanied site visits, however to aid consideration of planning applications we would still  recommend that photographs are included where possible.

Online resources are available for example google maps. This is very helpful in providing satellite and street view images which can provide you with a good impression of the character and appearance of the area, however, it has its limitations. There are issues with how up to date the image is, it does not give you a clear sense of changes in levels, it does not cover all streets and moreover it does not cover private views. Often it is the rear of properties, behind fences/trees where development takes place.

To address this, several councils are now requesting that photographs are submitted with applications and pre-application enquiries. Whilst this may not be a suitable alternative for some sites, for small schemes, and in particular householder applications; where photographs can be safely taken by the occupants living there, it provides a practical and pragmatic way for applications to be progressed.

We therefore recommend that site photographs are submitted with any new or existing applications/appeals where a site visit has not taken place. Photographs should cover all aspects of the site which are to be affected by the proposed development and as far as possible provide context in terms of the neighbouring properties and street scene.

If you need any further advice regarding site photographs or if you are thinking of submitting an application/appeal and unsure how to best do this, please get in touch. Bell Cornwell can advise on all aspect of the planning process and submit all applications and appeals electronically.

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