England Councils are ‘business as usual’ as of 30th April 2020. Some delays are occurring but mainly on a more large-scale planning applications or those that require site visits or must go before planning committee. The target for determination of a typical application is still 8 weeks from validation. This target decision date is still applicable although some boroughs have a backlog as a result of furloughing staff, and therefore delays are expected. Many planning officers are working from home and are not conducting site visits, but applications are still progressing.
Construction sites across England, as opposed to Scotland, are open to builders and progress is being made in the construction industry, however there is an overall slowdown due to the uncertainty. There are some exceptions with a couple of housebuilders mothballing their projects.
The government are proposing changes to the planning system in light of the pandemic and are extending the permitted development rights, specifically conversions to D1 medical uses.
The Government has granted permission under Permitted Development during the coronavirus pandemic to allow the Change of Use fro, pubs and restaurants (A3) to hot food takeaways (A5 use class). The Government say “The measures are the latest in a series of practical steps the government is taking to support businesses and help people who need to self-isolate, as well as vulnerable groups and older people who have been strongly advised to avoid social contact outside their homes to prevent the spread of coronavirus.“
The measures will apply to hot food and drinks. Serving of alcoholic drinks will continue to be subject to existing licensing laws.
Permitted development rights allow movement between one use class and another for example from a restaurant (A3) to a shop (A1) without planning permission.
The government will introduce a time limited permitted development right through secondary legislation (negative SI) to allow the temporary change of use of a pub (A4 – drinking establishment) and a restaurant (A3 – restaurants and cafes) to a hot-food take away for a period of up to 12 months only.
Businesses will be required to tell the local planning authority when the new use begins and ends under a Prior Approval application.
On 23rd June it was announced that the Government will set out new measures to increase construction projects in the building Industry and to get people back to work safely. This was announced by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP.
Planning permission deadlines will be extended, planning appeals will be sped up and builders will be allowed more flexible working hours following agreement with their local council.
Planning permission usually expires after 3 years if work has not started onsite. Sites with consent that have an expiry date between the start of lockdown and the end of this year will now see their consent extended to 1 April 2021. This will prevent work that has been temporarily disrupted by the pandemic from stopping altogether.
The government estimates that by the end of this month alone, more than 400 residential permissions providing more than 24,000 new homes would have expired. The new measures will help these developments and more resume as the economy recovers.
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