Name: Frequently Asked Questions following COVID-19 outbreak
Description: Frequently Asked Questions following COVID-19 outbreak

Frequently Asked Questions following COVID-19 outbreak

Planning Applications and Planning Enforcement

Over the last few weeks, we have been assessing the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on our ability to continue to deliver our planning services. All our staff are now set up to work at home and many of them have been working from home regularly for some time so are familiar with this way of working.

The health and safety of our staff, our customers and community are our top priorities and at the heart of all our decisions and therefore some of our normal practices will have to be adjusted.  For this reason, we have put together some FAQs to help reassure you that we are doing everything we can to ensure ‘business as usual’ as far as practically possible and to set out where there may be changes.  As you will be aware, however, this is a rapidly changing situation and therefore the advice below is based on the situation at the present time.

FAQs

How will the service continue to run in the current situation?

The planning team is working at home now and we are very fortunate to be capable of working remotely (from home).  This includes answering emails and answering/returning calls, considering planning applications, dealing with pre-application enquiries and investigating queries as well as validating and determining applications and updating records. All our team are familiar with working in this way and the adjustment will not be too significant.

Are you still fully contactable?

Yes, we are still contactable as before

If your query relates to a current planning application, pre-application enquiry, appeal, or enforcement investigation you can use the contact details of your case officer, as detailed on the correspondence we will have already sent you or your agent.

If you have a new enquiry please look at the planning pages on the Council’s website for further advice and information:

The website also provides details how you can contact us, make comments on an application through Public Access or request an investigation into a planning breach.

Are you holding face-to-face meetings?

The Council offices are now closed to the public and all face to face planning discussions are currently suspended.

If you have a current planning application, please ask your agent to contact the planning case officer.

Are you undertaking site visits?

Planning case officers and enforcement officers will undertake some limited site visits where this does not put staff or the public at risk and where it is in accordance with government advice. As the situation evolves this may need to change but if you have a current planning application the case officer will contact you to advise.

Can I still submit a planning application?

Yes. We are working as normal but you are advised to use the Planning Portal to submit your applications, as any hard copies received into the Council Offices will not be able to be dealt with immediately, and will cause delays to your submission.

Please remember to add your email address and mobile number so that we can communicate with you more efficiently and avoid the need to send out information in the post.

I have been consulted on a planning application can I still comment on it?

Please use Public Access to view planning applications or submit your comments on planning applications, as any hard copies received will not be able to be dealt with immediately.

Please remember to add your email address and mobile number to any correspondence so that we can communicate with you more efficiently and as any letters needing to be sent by post will be delayed by a few days due to home working and could possibly be disrupted further in the future.

Are you still validating planning applications?

Yes planning applications will be validated as normal and the validations officer will be in contact with you if more information is required. An acknowledgement of the application will now be sent by email not by post, so please ensure the application form includes a contact email address.

Will consultation letters still be sent out on planning applications?

At the moment, consultation letters will still be sent out by post to neighbours. In most cases it is a legal requirement to consult neighbouring occupiers either by displaying a site notice or sending consultation letters.  If the position changes and we are no longer able to meet our legal obligations to consult we will contact the applicant/agent and ask for an extension of time to determine the application.

How will you communicate with me during the lifetime of my planning application?

We work almost entirely electronically so please ensure you provide a contact email address. We do not know whether the postal service will be affected in the future and this will ensure we can contact you throughout the lifetime of the application.

If you are using an agent for your planning application we will contact them.

How will decisions be issued on planning applications?

Over 95% of planning applications in Dartford are determined under delegated powers by planning officers. This will continue unchanged and the planning decision will be sent out electronically.

The remaining more sensitive/contentious applications are decided by elected Councillors at the Council’s Development Control Board which meets monthly. The Council is currently considering how the Development Control Board will operate in order to ensure that we continue to determine all planning applications and more information will be provided with regard to this when we know more.

Are you still investigating planning breaches?

Yes planning enforcement officers are still investigating breaches of planning regulations but will not be holding meetings on site and site visits may be affected by the evolving situation.  We already have to prioritise investigations due to limited resources and this will continue. An enforcement officer will contact you to advise of progress.

Our enforcement officers work closely with other regulatory services both with the Council and other bodies, such as Kent Police and the most serious breaches will continue to be investigated.

If you wish to make a complaint about a breach of planning regulations, please visit the planning enforcement page on the Council’s website for more information and please use the Report a Planning Breach Form.

Are you still providing pre-application advice?

Yes we are still able to provide pre-application advice. However, we are unable to hold face-to-face meetings. If the planning case officer is unable to visit the site due to the current circumstances, they will contact you and discuss initial advice to be followed up later with more detailed advice once they have been able to visit the site.

All enquiries should be sent electronically to planning.admin@dartford.gov.uk.

Please visit the pre-application page on the Council’s website for more advice and details of fees.

What do I need to do if I want to turn my premises into a takeaway?

To support communities through the Coronavirus outbreak the government is introducing legislation to allow the temporary change of use of a pub, restaurant or cafe to a hot-food take away without planning permission for a period of 12 months from when the legislation comes into force.

Those venues offering takeaway or delivery services must not include alcoholic beverages if their licence does not already permit it.

Businesses are required to tell us, as the local planning authority, when the new use begins and ends. To notify us of your change of use, or for any further information or advice, please contact Planning Admin .

How do I request a property history search for my home?

Property searches can be carried out direct via the ‘My Property’ section of our website at

For other enquiries:

The Planning website provides guidance on common requests. This includes dropped kerb enquiries, guidance on whether planning permission is required and links to the Planning Portal, Planning Enforcement and tree enquiries.

You can find out about planning permissions relating to your property or your neighbour’s property by visiting My Property (see above).

Please help us by reading through the self-help guidance on the website before you contact us.

However, if your question isn’t answered here or on the planning pages of the Council’s website, then please contact us via Planning Admin and we will endeavour to come back to you as soon as we can.

Thank you from all the Team at Dartford Planning Services

Last Updated: 25th March 2020