Planning and Building Control


We are working hard to review and adapt our processes as we transition into a new way of working brought about by the circumstances surrounding the current Coronavirus outbreak. These include how we relate to our delegated powers regarding planning decisions and associated arrangements for Planning Committees. We are not yet in a position to provide you with a definitive illustration of these arrangements but are working hard to arrive at that point, in the meantime we have listed below some of the processes we have now put in place. Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding during these unprecedented times.

In line with MHCLG guidance, we will be implementing the following measures until further notice:    

Relaxation of some planning restrictions – Class DA

The government have relaxed planning restrictions on pubs and restaurants allowing them to operate as takeaways during this difficult period.

To take advantage of this use class, you must:

  • Notify us that you have started or will start to operate as a takeaway. You can do this by emailing planninghelp@ashford.gov.uk
  • Please include your business address and business contact details on your email.
  • There is no fee payable and no application form required.

View the statutory instrument regarding these restrictions.

Submission of planning applications

Submission of planning applications should be by electronic submission, via the Planning Portal, where possible.

An alternative option to online submission is via email to planning.help@ashford.gov.uk however, please consider file sizes when using this submission method. Arrangements may need to be made for file transfer by a document sharing facility. For further guidance, please seek direction via the planning help email.

We are still able to receive and process manual application submissions, however, there can be significant delays in us being able to process them. Electronic submission is therefore encouraged to ensure timely registration and processing of applications.

Commenting on planning applications?

Please use the online comment tool to make your representations on planning applications.

If your preference is to submit a manual representation by post, we would suggest you allow time for postal delays.

Providing us with an email address when submitting your comments enables us to ensure you are kept informed at relevant stages of the application as efficiently as possible and minimises the risk of printing or postal delays in these current circumstances.

Submission of materials for discharge

The submission of physical materials for approval in order to discharge a condition will not be possible. Photographs of materials should be submitted instead to planninghelp@ashford.gov.uk

Pre-application advice

Our pre-application service is now available again however, delays to published turnaround times are likely. To a degree this will depend on the complexity of the advice sought and the need for a site visit. In the latter situation, it might be that the advice cannot be given until a site visit can happen. Pre-app meetings to discuss planning proposals will no longer take place in person.  Should a meeting be essential during this period, arrangements will be made for virtual meetings to take place, appreciating the limitations this may bring. Meetings, however, will be at officers' discretion.

Site visits

Site visits are being considered on a case by case basis. If entering the site is a necessity, then the site visit will be delayed until it is considered safe to do so.

Planning committee meetings

Ashford Borough Council held its first fully virtual Planning Committee meeting on Wednesday 22 April. The next virtual Planning Committee will be held on Wednesday 17 June at 7pm. Please note that any member of the press and public may watch and listen to proceedings at this ‘virtual’ meeting via a weblink which will be publicised on the homepage of our website at least 24 hours before the meeting. Members of the press and public may tweet, blog etc. during the live broadcast as they would be able to during a regular Committee meeting at the Civic Centre. 

Delegated Powers

Changes to delegations have been implemented in order to reduce the workload on the Planning Committee at this difficult time:

New delegations to the Strategic Development and Delivery Manager and the Development Management Manager:-

  • Reserved Matters Applications for approval of Appearance, Layout and Scale.
  • Applications to remove or vary a Planning Condition on a previous Permission (Section 73 applications).

New delegations to the Head of Planning and Development, after consultation with the Ward Member provided that the Head of Planning and Development has no involvement in the original consideration and making of the Orders in question:

  • Confirmation of Tree Preservation Orders following objection(s) being received.

These 3 new Delegations apply from 9 April 2020 for 6 months (ending on 7 October 2020) for all pending applications (whenever received), and all Tree Preservation Orders (whenever made). A review of their operation will be carried out during that time. 

Appeals

The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) have highlighted the importance of referring to their webpages during the Coronavirus outbreak for up-to-date information about how best to correspond with them during this time. Submission of representations should be via the Appeals Casework Portal whenever possible. 

Please note that the PINS office is currently closed and therefore they are unable to receive postal representations.

Display of site notices

Applicants/agents where necessary will be asked to print out and display a site notice at/near the site in accordance with instructions provided in the initial acknowledgement letter. In the event that this cannot happen then an extension of time can be agreed to allow a decision to be made as soon as the necessary publicity, and, if necessary, a site visit has been carried out. The officer will continue to work on the consideration of the planning application in the usual manner in the meantime.

Notifying neighbours of planning applications

We have reinstated the neighbour notification letters. There might, however, be a situation where a corresponding site notice also needs to be displayed and this might not be possible (see display of site notices above). In this situation an extension of time can be agreed to allow a decision to be made as soon as the necessary publicity, and, if necessary, a site visit  has been carried out. The officer will continue to work on the consideration of the planning application in the usual manner in the meantime. We would still  encourage people to sign up to our ‘applications near me’ facility on our website in order to receive alerts of applications according to your preferences. Parish councils will continue to be notified.

Viewing Sensitive File Content

In normal circumstances the only way to view would be on request (by prior appointment) at the Civic Centre. However, we are aware that sensitive information cannot be viewed at the Civic Centre due to the current Coronavirus restrictions and the Civic Centre being closed. We are working to resolve this issue and will update this notice accordingly if the situation changes.

In the meantime, please submit any comments in the normal way though Planning Comments, which will then be taken into consideration.