Covid-19 impact on planning processes

Please read our information on how we are supporting residents and businesses, as well as information on affected services.

The Planning Service is still operating but there may be some unavoidable delays in our response times.  Our staff are working hard to deal with a high volume of enquiries at this time.

The Council supports our staff to work flexibly.  This means that some officers may work different hours.

We have brought forward new ways of working and will continue to do as required. We use prepared letters and emails.  Not all have been updated.  Some of these may refer to ways of working that have been temporarily suspended or changed. 

You can find out about the impact on Covid on services in:

Please bear with us and be considerate when communicating with our staff.

The Council prefers officers to work from home unless they need to come into an office.  This preference will continue until the end of September.  All officers are contactable from home via email.  If you wish to speak to an officer, you can:

  • call an officer’s mobile phone or
  • leave a message on office landlines. 

They will get back to you as soon as they are able.    Officers may be working different patterns. 

It is not possible to see an officer at a Council office. Our officers are working remotely to ensure the safety of our staff and our residents.  Planning agents and applicants may also be working from home.  Please let us know any new address for correspondence.  We will then update our records until you tell us otherwise.  You can contact us via:

Most face-to-face meetings are cancelled.  Officers can arrange meetings by Microsoft Teams or by telephone. Teams is the Council’s preferred choice.  Officers may be able to join meetings on other Apps such as:

  • Zoom
  • WhatsApp 

But please check first.  It is not possible to use iPhone Facetime.

Planning Committee meetings are a mix of virtual and face to face.  You can find information on how committees run using this link: Webcasts

We are determining applications.  There may be some delays as:

  • we are working differently
  • some processes take a little longer. 

We are also receiving more general planning enquiries.  Validation times are being affected.  Our planning enforcement team are also receiving more enquiries.  Please bear with us as it might take a little longer to respond to your query.

We will not delay our decision-making unnecessarily.  For example, not all applications will need a site visit. We may have enough knowledge or can access information on our systems to allow us to consider the proposal properly.  We will only do a site visit:

  • if it is essential
  • after doing a risk assessment and
  • where all options to assess it virtually have been exhausted. 

For pre-application enquiries, we will offer:

  • the desktop option or
  • an unaccompanied visit and a virtual meeting or telephone call.

It may not be possible to determine a Permitted Development Prior Notification in time.  Planning case officers may be unable to fully consider it within the deemed consent period.  We are prioritising Prior Notifications.  If it is not possible, we will try to agree an extended approval date with the applicant. If we cannot agree a new date, prior approval may be refused if the application cannot be considered fully.

We are doing planning history requests and other discretionary services.  We can only provide those:

  • which can be completed electronically or
  • where we can access manual records

Please see the Planning Fees and Charges Document. Planning history searches are on page 40. We have limited access to non-electronic records at present.  Any requests which cannot be completed will be put on hold.  We will complete them as soon as possible.

You may be considering different options or ways of operating.  We regularly offer free advice to businesses.  Our next sessions will be in September. You will need to pre-book a session in advance.  Please look out for details of available dates and how to book on this webpage nearer the time.

You may need more space to work from home.  If you are considering:

  • an annexe, the Council’s Annexe Guidance Note contains information on residential annexes.
  • a home office, you may not need planning permission to use:
    • a room in your house or
    • an outbuilding in your garden as a home office. 

This is as long as the primary purpose of the dwelling and its garden area remains residential.  For example, you may not need planning permission if you:

  • work on a computer or
  • use hairdressing equipment in a dining room or a garden shed and
  • clients attend one at a time and by appointment only.

Please have a look at Do I need planning consent or building regulations? for more information and a link to the Government’s Planning Portal.  You can also check if a planning condition has removed your Permitted Development Rights.

You can access the latest technical guidance such as Annexe guidance using this link: Planning Technical Updates

From 12 April 2021, self-catering accommodation can open.  This includes caravan sites.

Cornwall is expecting a busy holiday season.  You may be able to use land temporarily for camping pitches.  The Government gives permitted development rights for persons to use land for temporary uses such as camp sites:

  • for up to 28 days in any calendar year
  • without the need to submit a planning application. 

These rights will not apply in areas where there is an Article 4 Direction.  An Article 4 Direction removes these permitted development rights. Please note that the 28 days has been extended to 56 days this year.  Queries about pop up temporary campsites are increasing.  Planning guidance can be viewed using this link: Temporary pop up camping sites - planning guidance

Some small scale camping sites may benefit from permitted development rights.  They must be affiliated to an exempted organisation such as the caravan and camping club.  A site licence is also not always required for these.  Other exceptions include:

  • ‘pop up’ sites unless they become more regular or permanent
  • sites used for agricultural work activities
  • other groups or activities such as travelling showmen.

Where planning permission is required a number of factors will apply.  These affect whether planning permission or a site licence is granted and include:

  • the location of the development
  • is it sustainable
  • impact on the landscape including the impact of any designated areas such as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • highway safety
  • impact on the amenity of neighbouring sites
  • how the site is laid out and
  • whether the number of pitches is appropriate.

Please seek advice before starting any works.  Please email:

New planning changes give greater flexibility in town centre uses: changes to the Use Class Order. It introduces:

  • a new use class ‘E’ (for commercial, business and service).   This includes previous use classes for:
    • shops
    • financial and professional services
    • restaurants and cafes and
    • some businesses. 
    • new use classes F1 and F2 for community uses. 

This means:

  • Businesses can offer a takeaway service without applying for planning permission until 23 March 2022
  • Land can be used temporarily for a market for longer without needing a planning application, from 14 to 28 days.  This will be allowed until March 2022.

The Government have allowed longer working hours on construction sites.  The Government's guidance for construction working hours was updated by a construction update on 25 March 2021.  This extended working hours flexibility until 30 September 2021.  

More information is available on the planning guidance for businesses page.

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