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High demand for Cornwall Council’s planning services

Residents, planning agents and those buying homes in Cornwall are asked to be patient as the Council’s planning service experiences high demand. 

The Planning and Sustainable Development service has continued to operate throughout the challenges of this year as the coronavirus pandemic impacts everyone’s lives, but it has had to adapt the way in which it works – all while dealing with an unusually high level of enquiries. 

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Between April 2018 and March 2019 the planning service received an average of 4,666 emails each month – 233 per day. 

By comparison, between February 2020 and August 2020 it has averaged 6,000 emails a month – 300 per day. 

Enforcement complaints, where residents get in touch with the Council about a potential breach of planning permission, are currently 30 per cent higher compared to this time last year. 

September 2020’s Land Charges searches, which are required by solicitors as part of the home-buying process, were double what they were in September 2019. 

Louise Wood, Service Director for Planning & Sustainable Development at Cornwall Council, said: We had to respond quickly to bring forward new ways of working. Many of our staff are now working remotely in line with government guidanceand will continue to do so as the situation changes.  

However, we are experiencing an unusually high volume of enquiries, which is impacting on our response times, and we ask that people please bear with us. 

Coronavirus restrictions mean it is not possible to discuss planning matters at council offices, but the team can be contacted via planning@cornwall.gov.uk or on 0300 1234 151. 

Planning applications continue to be determined and site visits are still being carried out in a Covid-secure way if virtual options for assessment have been exhausted. 

Cornwall Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning, Tim Dwelly, said: “We will not delay our decision-making unnecessarily. 

Our planning officers are dealing with a significant increase in the volume of general planning enquirieswhich can result in delays with validating applications.  

“They are working hard to manage this.” 

The Council is still determining 87 per cent of applications within agreed timescales, which is consistent with its performance prior to the pandemic.  

However, remote working means that the Council is currently unable to accept hard copy planning applications. 

Applications can be submitted online via the Planning Portal or by emailing planning @cornwall.gov.uk