SUMMARY OF PLANNING POLICY CHANGES AND UPDATES DUE TO CORONAVIRUS
We are currently monitoring any changes to policy and Government guidance as a result of COVID-19, that may affect our clients and their rural businesses. Here, are some of the latest updates we are keen to advise you of.
The current COVID-19 measures which restrict social gatherings go hand in hand with further Government advice to avoid visiting cafes, restaurants and public houses, a significant challenge for our clients within the leisure and hospitality industry.
CHANGES TO POLICY
To assist in reducing these trading challenges and support local communities, venues in England will now be allowed to offer hot food takeaways. This is a welcome relaxation in planning policy which can make a real difference to rural businesses and communities.
In normal circumstances planning permission is required if a restaurant or pub wants to offer hot food takeaways, this is because restaurants and takeaways sit within different Use Classes (A3 and A5). For a limited time, permitted development rights will be relaxed to allow flexibility between these Use Classes. It should however be noted that the same flexibility will not extend to the sale of liquor for offsite consumption.
These changes are expected to allow for this operational flexibility for up to 12 months. This is a positive step and clients who are concerned about what to do to adapt their businesses at this time would do well to consider if this is something they can implement.
Events are moving incredibly quickly and there have already been a number of major announcements from the Government on measures to help the planning system operate more flexibly.
The implications of COVID-19 on the planning system are potentially wide reaching. Earlier this week, Robert Jenrick instructed English planning authorities to avoid enforcing controls that ‘unnecessarily’ restrict the time and number of lorry deliveries to retailers and distributors of food and other ‘essential’ deliveries.
The Planning Inspector (PINS) has also published guidance for those participating in appeal inquiries, hearings and local plan examinations. There has been a temporary suspension of hearing sessions whilst alternative technology is investigated to allow for virtual sessions with PINS reporting that they are considering ‘all the options’ necessary to maintain its momentum on appeals in the face of the crisis. If this way of working is successful it may change operational practices in the longer term and bring about an acceleration to the ongoing review and debate around how to modernise and accelerate the planning decision making process.
If you have any queries or concerns about planning issues regarding your business or projects during this time, we will happy to hear from you and help in any way we can.