MWP continue to practice during the pandemic utilising modern technology and working towards the “New Normal” where meetings are held virtually, and members of our team can work remotely but still be integrated with the office.
We feel some of these changes will become permanent because they make good sense environmentally by reducing energy and energy spent commuting and travelling to meetings; and socially as home working allows our team to be more flexible with their families.
Meetings can be flexibly arranged. We look forward to the return to the pre-lockdown social interaction between our team and associates but recognise there are other safer and more efficient ways of working.
The safety of our team, our clients and those who work with us is paramount. Client home and office visits can happen when required, and site inspections will take place. Social distancing guidelines will be followed, and appropriate PPE (personal protection equipment) will be issued to staff both for conventional site safety, and social distancing safety.
The Covid-19 pandemic related changes have been also introduced into statutory approval procedures.
The new Coronavirus (Scotland) Act has set out how Local Authority Planning Departments should react to the pandemic in a flexible and reasonable way in carrying out their duties. They continue to respond to enquiries and are processing both current and new applications. This has allowed us to continue working on projects at planning and building warrant stages.
There are some specific points of the Act worth noting:
SIGNIFICANT PROJECTS: For projects of major or national significance there is a temporary change not to require face to face public consultations but to replace these with an alternative on-line version.
DURATION OF PLANNING PERMISSION: The act extends the duration of all planning permissions, which are due to expire during the lockdown period, by 12 months.
NEW PLANNING APPLICATIONS: New planning applications must be submitted electronically to ensure that they are registered and progressed. Any hard copy applications will not be validated until offices open.
PLANNING COMMITTEES: Local Authorities have the power to hold committee meetings virtually and it is expected that Planning decisions will continue to be made, whether by delegated powers at Officer level or by Committee.
CONSTRUCTION SITES: There are guidelines for construction practice during Covid-19 pandemics that are being regularly updates by the Government.
As to Coronavirus itself, we are monitoring the situation day by day. The health and welfare of our Clients and Team remain our highest priority. We are especially thinking of those who are most vulnerable. We do hope for all of you, as for us, that our spirits remain high. We all look forward to the future, to personal engagement and interaction, new creativity and to a future where we will continue to work for a sustainable balance between human activity and the natural environment.