At Carter Jonas, we are very aware that questions may arise around the impact that COVID-19 is having, or is likely to have, on the planning system and development market both immediately, and over the coming weeks.

As we continue to monitor the ever-changing situation, we wanted to reiterate to you that, although our physical offices are temporarily closed, our teams are still working and can be contacted on their normal phone numbers.

The government continues to issue and update advice and guidance, and we are reviewing this as and when it changes. 

We understand that all planning and development requirements are unique and need a bespoke approach so, if you would like any help in understanding how these changes affect you, or specific advice as to actions you should be taking, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

The impact of COVID-19 will be very varied. Below we set out some guidance which we hope will be helpful.


Despite perceptions of a turbulent marketplace, the development land sector remains active and is growing in strength. Housebuilders and RSLs have money to spend, particularly on land with planning consent, and in some areas land prices have been rising. 

In the strategic land market, short-term and long-term land opportunities are as sought after as ever with robust interest in available opportunities.


Throughout the current situation, our planning professionals continue to be in regular contact with local authorities and other relevant parties, such as the Planning Inspectorate and Examination Programme Officers. We are also exploring a range of further methods, alongside internal and external project teams, to ensure we can continue to work collaboratively in our clients’ best interests.

These are extraordinary times, but the planning system continues to function. From our experience so far, the following points are worth noting:

Over the last year, the spread of COVID-19 has caused an economic and social upheaval, impacting on almost every aspect of our everyday life. For those who work within the planning landscape, whether it be within a council or a consultancy, lockdown and social distancing has posed many challenges.

However, we are delighted to see our industry adapt and evolve in many ways, including the introduction of virtual planning committees.

As we work with many councils across the UK, we have had the privilege to be involved with some of the first planning committee meetings to take place via virtual video call platforms. To aid the success of similar upcoming council endeavours, we have outlined our experience and future recommendations.

To view the article, please click here.

For further information, or to speak directly to one of our planning professionals, please contact us.

Most, but not all, Planning Officers are now working from home and should be contactable, as usual but often via mobile phones. Inevitably however, some are available on reduced hours due to childcare constraints. Nevertheless, it should be possible to hold routine meetings by video conference or telephone.

For further market information, or to speak directly to one of our planning professionals, please contact us.

We would advise you to expect some delays as validation/registration teams are also now working remotely. While most statutory consultations can be issued by email, authorities are finding it more difficult to deal with the issuing of neighbour consultation letters under remote working. We understand that some Councils will be asking individual members of staff to visit council premises to handle outgoing post. There may also be difficulties in posting site notices informing the public that planning applications have been submitted. Some authorities are asking applicants to assist with posting site notices.

For further market information, or to speak directly to one of our planning professionals, please contact us.

Most local planning authorities are able to handle such meetings via video conferencing. Microsoft Teams and Skype allow the sharing of screen displays, so while not ideal, it is perfectly possible to have such meetings with participants in multiple locations. Our planning and development teams have already had a number of such ‘online’ meetings with officers and this appears to be working satisfactorily.

For further market information, or to speak directly to one of our planning professionals, please contact us.

There is likely to be some disruption with site visits as Councils have understandably mandated that staff should work from home. Use of aerial photography and ‘street view’ technology may assist, but these have obvious limitations which need to be recognised. Clearly, some application proposals will be more dependent on a comprehensive site visit than others, and the extent to which officers are familiar with sites (through pre-application work etc.) will also be a factor.  We are aware that some authorities are requesting video footage of sites where they are unable to carry out visits.

For further market information, or to speak directly to one of our planning professionals, please contact us.

The current situation does mean that public exhibitions and workshops cannot go ahead. Our professionals have continued to engage with the public through the move to online public engagement platforms, with online public exhibitions and consultations for planning applications proving to be successful. The current situation has had the side effect of helping to bring consultations into the 21st Century earlier than intended.

For further market information, or to speak directly to one of our planning professionals, please contact us.

Technical studies and surveys are mostly able to take place on site, in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

For further market information, or to speak directly to one of our planning professionals, please contact us.

Appeal inquiries, hearings and Examinations in Public are still not being held in person, but are taking place virtually. The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) has also been trialling events involving a mix of virtual and physical formats. They also have a very small number of people working in the office to deal with casework that cannot be dealt with remotely.

For further market information, or to speak directly to one of our planning professionals, please contact us.

To view the current government guidance for businesses, please click here

To view the current government guidance for employees, please click here.
Our specialist teams operate at national level. Select a region below to find your nearest consultant.

Nick is a chartered town planner and development surveyor with over 25 years' experience, gained across the residential, commercial, retail and industrial sectors for corporate, institutional and private landowners and developers. He has worked at CBRE and Drivers Jonas Deloitte. His professional experience is in three main sectors – Strategic Land / Projects, Retail / Mixed-Use and Central London. Strategic Projects / Land involves the promotion of land for commercial and residential development for landowners and developers. Retail / Mixed-Use schemes are a blend of edge of centre and town centre mixed-use schemes with food stores and other uses, often residential. This sector includes regeneration and waterside schemes. Central London focuses on projects from Canary Wharf to Hammersmith and Camden down to Wandsworth, Southwark and Lambeth.

When he isn’t working, Nick can be found playing golf (increasingly badly) and spending time re-stocking and emptying his wine cellar to indulge his passion for wine.

Jon leads the Carter Jonas London development team, providing strategic development advice, feasibility and viability studies, acquisition, disposal and marketing advice and advice on structuring and procuring development partnerships. He has 30 years’ experience, working initially in local government and then in consultancy at Donaldsons, Knight Frank and GL Hearn.

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Steven is Partner and Head of Planning Southern Region and is based in our Oxford office.

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James is Chairman of Carter Jonas.  Formerly Head of the Planning & Development Division, James advises clients on proposed development projects throughout the south of England with nearly 30 years of experience in residential and mixed use development.  This includes site identification, project management of planning and development strategies, valuation and viability appraisals, marketing and sale of development opportunities. He has specific expertise in option, promotion and other development agreements, joint ventures and landowner equalisation agreements. James has been involved in sites ranging from new settlements to city centre regeneration and smaller provincial and rural schemes, and also provides expert witness and independent expert valuation services for dispute resolution.

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Colin is a Partner and was appointed Head of Planning & Development Division in November 2020, he is based out of our Cambridge office.  He has over 25 years’ experience of planning consultancy and has a broad sphere of work.  He acts for a wide range of private, institutional and developer clients and has worked on significant planning applications and appeals.

He regularly instructs Counsel, and has appeared at a number of Local Plan examinations and in Section 78 and other appeals where he has often given evidence.  He carries out much land promotion work and has a strong track record of delivering planning consents taking projects through their entire process from site identification to construction on site.  

Away from work, Colin is Chairman of the Cambridge Forum for the Construction Industry and of the Cambridge branch of networking group, Interact.  He is also Chairman of the Dining Rights Committee at the Hawks’ Club, a sporting club in the City for Cambridge University sportsmen. He is a regular, if poor golfer, a keen cyclist and a committed, but somewhat less dangerous skier than he once was.

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Matthew has acted for a wide number of Landowner Clients including:

  • Royal Estate Sandringham
  • Crown Point Estate
  • Cecil Family Trust
  • Greene King Plc
  • North Hertfordshire College
  • Cemex
  • May Gurney
  • Pigeon
  • Advice, marketing, disposal and additional tranche disposal of 1,500 unit Residential Development in Grantham.

Project team principle for disposal of the NHC Centre of the Arts, Hitchin, securing a Development Partner and assembling a professional team to progress an application, sale and disposal of a principal asset within the College’s portfolio 

Mathew has over 29 years' experience in the property industry and has been directly involved Residential Development in East Anglia since 1998. He specialises in Land Disposals and Acquisition; Strategic Land, Promotion and Option Agreements. He has acted for a wide range of private and public sector land owners companies including Greene King, Royal Estate Sandringham; Grant Thornton, Pigeon, Crown Point Estate, Cemex (formerly RMC), The Diocese of Norfolk & Norwich and North Hertfordshire College as well as private land owners across the region.

He is Head of Residential Development at the Cambridge Office.

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John is Head of the Leeds office and the Planning & Development Team North. John advises clients on proposed development projects throughout the North of England.  He has over 30 years’ experience in residential and commercial development acting for private, corporate, institutional, charity and public sector clients.

This includes site identification, project management of planning and development strategies, valuation and viability appraisals, marketing and sale of development opportunities.

John has specific expertise in Options, Promotional Agreements, Joint Ventures and Conditional Contracts, acting mainly for landowners.  John has been involved in projects such as new settlements, to city centre regeneration, provincial sites, large commercial developments and site sales.

The Development Agency team are currently instructed on 6,500 acres in 150 locations across the North West, Yorkshire and the North East.

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