In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and guidance from government, the Planning Inspectorate has published guidance on site visits, hearings, inquiries and events.
The guidance has been updated in the light of the Government’s continuing route to relax social distancing restrictions.
We are continuing to review what the Government’s roadmap means for our way of working and our guidance for customers in England. Information for Wales can be found on GOV.Wales.
Current position (15 July)
From 19 July in England we will be in Stage 4 of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown. Most legal restrictions to control COVID-19 will be lifted at step 4.
After careful consideration of the changes to government advice on relaxing restrictions, we will be making some changes to the way hearings and inquiries are organised and take place.
- Virtual hearings and inquiries already organised between now and 10 September will continue as planned to avoid disruption and potential confusion from re-organising them.
- For hearings and inquiries taking place from 13 September we will be reverting to the pre-pandemic approach of events being arranged by local authorities.
- In person events will be possible, but where participants (including the inspector) need to present their evidence or participate virtually or in person this will need to be facilitated by the local authority.
Hearings and inquiries will therefore be entirely in-person, entirely virtual or a mix of the two.
Where in-person elements are planned, the local authority will need to be prepared for the event to be held fully virtually in case pandemic restrictions change.
How we will work in the future
We are also undertaking further work on the longer-term, sustained approach to hearings and inquiries. We are currently engaging and consulting with staff, stakeholders and customers about how we should work in the future. We expect both blended (which include in-person elements) and virtual events to be part of our future operating model.
One of the key questions we will need to decide on, following research and engagement, is what the balance should be between physical and virtual within and across different case types. The events being run by local authorities from 13 September will provide us with valuable evidence to help shape our thinking. We expect to be able to share more on the future operating model for events in early 2022.
We will continue to ensure that any further changes will be communicated to affected customers, and we will update our guidance accordingly on this page as and when the situation changes.
Our current guidance has been updated to reflect the latest changes to coronavirus guidance. Please see the specific casework area guidance documents below.
On 24 November 2020 we updated our procedural guidance on participating in virtual events to reflect the changes brought in by the Business and Planning Act 2020:
- Procedural Guide – Planning appeals
- Procedural Guide - Enforcement appeals
- Procedural Guide – Certificate of lawful use or development appeals
On 18 November 2020 we updated the Apply for Rule 6 status guides to include details of the additional pro bono organisations and a link to the guide to participating in virtual events:
- Apply for rule 6 status on an enforcement or lawful development certificate appeal
- Apply for rule 6 status on a planning appeal or called-in application
To help us, customers are requested to:
- Inform us as soon as possible if they are unable to attend, or feel that it is unsafe for an inspector to attend, a site visit for any reason
- Use the appeals casework portal for new appeals
- Use the appeals casework portal for making comments on appeals
- Email/ ring their case officer directly
- Do not post written correspondence to Temple Quay House if possible – this delays the process
If you have an enquiry, please contact your case officer directly, if you do not have a case officer please contact our customer service team via the contact details available on the Planning Inspectorate homepage.
Please ensure that you check this page regularly and follow our Twitter updates.