Written by Anna Rose – Head of Planning Advisory Service – Past Winner
10 weeks ago, I received notification that I was in the shielded group as a result of being extremely clinically vulnerable to COVID19. I tucked myself away in my bedroom and set up a makeshift office, here I would stay whilst the family isolated for 14 days so that we could all shield together. We have been working and schooling from home ever since. I’m still working from our bedroom, Steve has the spare room and the three girls have the main living area. We have absolutely everything delivered. It’s certainly different but we’re managing. After all we’re lucky, we have a house with a garden and understanding employers who are happy for us to work from home. Our 17-year-old has also taken on cleaning, cooking and childcare alongside her studies. This wasn’t intentional but work suddenly went crazy in the public sector and we were no different.
Why would the Planning Advisory Service be so busy during a pandemic? We are the first port of call for Councils looking for answers about their planning services. The ability to work as usual stopped with little notice. Advice was needed on everything from site notices to strategic plans. Answers were needed to frequently asked questions and solutions needed to be found for common problems. Our website https://www.local.gov.uk/pas/pas-topics/planning-covid-19 became the ‘go to’ for all advice, updates and changes that were announced.
Planning is an enabler. Planning can lead significant change in an area. This is going to be critical as we work through the COVID19 crisis and into recovery. Whereas 2008/9 saw an economic stimulus, the stimulus to this crisis will need to find the balance between economic prosperity, a just society and ecological balance. It won’t be easy, but planning is a great place to start.