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1st September 2020

COVID-19 and the planning system – new legislation to support businesses and developers

1st September 2020

COVID-19 and the planning system – new legislation to support businesses and developers

Rob Sellen

Posted: 1st September 2020

T: 023 8048 2169

E: Email Me

COVID-19 has impacted the planning system and left many in a state of uncertainty.  

New legislation to support businesses and developers in view of COVID-19

New legislation and guidance continue to emerge, seeking to support businesses and developers through this period.

Changes of use for restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments

  • Legislation allowing a temporary change of use to enable restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments to operate as takeaways came into force Tuesday 24th March 2020.

Ordinarily planning permission would be required for this change of use, but this legislation was introduced to support businesses that were unable to open and to help people minimise contact with others outside their home.

  • Exceptions to the changes

Business owners must be aware that their premises may be subject to planning conditions preventing their use as takeaways and some businesses may have clauses under their lease preventing this use.

Consumption of food and drink outdoors

  • Pavement licences 

A new streamlined route to obtaining pavement licenses has been introduced to enable businesses such as cafes, restaurants and bars to support and encourage social distancing measures.

Once a licence is granted, or deemed to be granted, the applicant will also benefit from deemed planning permission to use the land for anything pursuant to the licence, while the licence is valid.

The new process provides a cheaper, easier and quicker way for businesses to obtain a licence. The fee is capped at £100 and the consultation period is 5 working days (excluding public holidays). Licences deemed to have been granted, are to remain in place for a year (but not beyond September 2021).

Overnight deliveries for food and essential products

  • There has been a temporary relaxation of planning enforcement where this relates to planning conditions restricting the timing of deliveries, for example overnight.

This is to allow additional deliveries of food, sanitary and other essential products to supermarkets and other food retailers.

Outdoor markets

  • Councils able to hold outdoor markets without the need to obtain planning permission.

Through the insertion of Class BA into Part 12 of the General Permitted Development Order, local authorities, or anyone on behalf of a local authority, have a temporary right to use any land (provided it is not within a site of special scientific interest) for the purposes of holding a market.

This includes the provision on the land of any moveable structure and relates to the period between 25th June 2020 – 23rd March 2021.

Temporary uses

  • Landowners given additional flexibility and more time to use their land to hold events.

A temporary use class has been added which, in contrast to the existing permitted development rights for temporary uses, includes the use of land within the curtilage of a building, provided that the building is not a listed building.

Landowners are currently allowed to use land (not within the curtilage of a building) for any purpose (subject to certain restrictions) for up to 28 days in any calendar year, of which not more than 14 days in total may be for the purposes of a market or motor racing. Where the land is not within the curtilage of a building these new rights are in addition, within the relevant period, 1st July 2020 to 31st December 2020.

Extension of time limits for extant planning permissions

  • Changes have been introduced to extend the time to implement planning permissions which are due to expire or have recently expired.

Full and Outline planning permissions due to expire within the period between 19th August and 31st December 2020 are now automatically extended until 1st May 2021.

Listed Building consents which were required to have commenced between 23rd March 2020 and 31st December 2020 are also automatically extended until 1st May 2021.

Applications for the approval of Reserved Matters which were required to have been submitted between 23rd March 2020 and 31st December 2020 also have an automatic extension until 1st May 2021.
For unimplemented Full and Outline planning permissions which expired between 23rd March and 19th August an applicant may apply to the local authority for an ‘additional environmental approval’ to revive the lapsed permission. This will enable the consent to become extant until 1st May 2021, provided that the application meets the relevant EIA and habitats requirement tests.

Increased flexibility for construction site working hours

  • From 13th May, the Government expects local planning authorities to approve requests to temporarily extend construction working hours, where they are controlled by planning condition, unless there are compelling reasons not to do so.

The changes allow working hours to be extended until 9pm, 6 days a week, Monday to Saturday.

Where developers require changes to working hours, they should apply to the local planning authority who will advise whether the change can be agreed informally or whether a formal application will be required. Local planning authorities should ensure that decisions are issued quickly – with the aim of doing so within 10 working days where possible.

Local planning authorities should act proportionately in responding to suspected breaches of planning control regarding working hours and, where only a short term or modest increase in working hours is required, use their discretion to not enforce against a breach of working hours.

Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)

  • Temporary changes to the CIL regulations to help small and medium sized developers.

On 22 July 2020 new regulations came in to force, which allow for requests to be made for the deferral of CIL payments. These changes apply to developers who have an annual turnover not exceeding £45 million and who are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of coronavirus and are having difficulty paying an amount of CIL due (or which is outstanding and remains payable) in the ‘material period’ between 22 July and 31 July 2021.

For further information please see the following links:

How we can help

Preparing for the future

Perhaps you are considering diversifying your business to offer additional services or looking to change the use of an existing building. Perhaps you are a home or business owner looking to extend your property, or are a housing developer considering potential new schemes.

Although there is currently uncertainty, this time can be well used to put plans in place, preparing for when normality returns.

Obtaining planning and planning legal advice

We can provide pre-application advice and guidance regarding the information that will be required to submit your proposal, as well as the relevant planning policy to be considered. We can assist you in preparing your application as well as providing planning legal advice.

Paris Smith Planning Lawyers and Planning Consultants can support you to consider your options and ensure that you are well placed to submit your proposals.

At Paris Smith LLP we are working hard for our clients to continue to deliver the results they need. Whilst working remotely and avoiding all social contact, we remain open and available to assist clients via teleconferencing, emails and telephone calls. Please do not hesitate to contact the Planning Team who are able to continue to provide an exceptional service in these uncertain times.

For any further information on the above issues or for advice on planning more generally, please contact either :

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Rob Sellen

Posted: 1st September 2020

T: 023 8048 2169

E: Email Me