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COVID-19 and tech solutions for planning

24 March 2020

The industry appears to be split about the use of technology in the decision making process. Last week, the Planning Inspectorate issued guidance that confirmed all site visits would be cancelled and two local plan examinations due to take place were postponed.

Barristers have been arguing, however, that video linking could allow for public hearing and inquiries to continue notwithstanding the current lock-down.

Clearly there is a need to find solutions that will allow applications to proceed so that development does not grind to a halt in the UK particularly given the pre-existing shortage of housing. This need must be balanced against the requirement for public accessibility within the planning process. Not everyone will have access to computers or the relevant know- how to link up to live streaming especially those who may be self-isolated and without support from those more tech savvy. 

The Planning Inspectorate is due to consider the issue further this week. In the meantime, it appears the City of London Corporation have secured a manuscript amendment to legislation for local authority voting powers. The proposal is for emergency regulations to be made to allow remote voting by councillors until the end of May.


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