Thursday 28 January 2021
Responding to comments made recently by the President of the Policy & Resources Committee, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, the President of the Development & Planning Authority (D&PA), Deputy Victoria Oliver, said:
"Although when we came out of the last lockdown in mid-2020, planning application response times were at around 16 weeks, this has since improved and prior to the current lockdown the response times were reduced to 8-13 weeks on average.
"Many more minor planning applications are now decided using the fast track procedure with decisions on these made within 4-5 weeks from submission. This frees up officer time to concentrate on progressing the more significant and complex applications.
"In addition, the D&PA Committee last week considered initial proposals for significantly expanding the planning exemptions. This will mean that fewer works will require a planning application and again will enable our efforts to be concentrated where they will be most effective. The Committee and officers are progressing the work on the exemptions as a priority.
"Work is also progressing at pace with our partner Agilisys on digitising the planning and building control application process, which will enable applications to be made and publicised online and eliminate many current paper-based processes.
"The Development Frameworks for the St Peter Port Regeneration Areas are also currently being drafted and will be considered by the Committee for approval in June this year. This follows approval of the Development Framework for Leale's Yard last year. The Development Frameworks help to focus investment and ensure planning issues affecting the areas concerned are considered and resolved at an early stage, prior to planning applications being made. The St Peter Port Regeneration Areas include Mill Street and the Bordage as well as the Lower Pollet and South Esplanade. This work is an important and significant step in the revitalisation of our Town.
"Planning law and policy currently supports most forms of development in appropriate locations and as a result the vast majority of planning applications are approved. The D&PA has nevertheless been considering a number of changes to land use policy to support economic growth and the wider interests of the community and will be bringing its proposals to the Assembly, once the priorities of the States have been finalised and debated by Deputies in March."
With regard to the impact of the current lockdown, D&PA Vice-President, Deputy Andy Taylor, said:
"Although we have now entered a further lockdown, this will not affect the processing of planning and building control applications to a significant degree."
"Compared with the situation in March 2020, planning applications are now publicised online rather than people having to view paper plans at Sir Charles Frossard House as was previously the case. Officers have also built up considerable experience of working remotely and many planning applications are being fast tracked. Only site inspections and site visits are currently unable to take place, which is entirely understandable in the circumstances."
Deputy Oliver concluded:
"The D&PA has been working hard and has the tools at its disposal to strongly and positively support economic growth and the interests of our wider community at this challenging time and well into the future. The Committee looks forward to working closely with all our political colleagues over the coming months to ensure that these opportunities are fully realised expeditiously and effectively."