• As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Government has recently announced a number of measures relevant to town and country planning.

    This is fast moving area and we will endeavour to keep clients and businesses up to date with relevant changes.

    The key updates are summarised below and are up to date as of 27 March 2020.

    Permitted Development Rights

    From 24 March new permitted development rights came into effect which authorise pubs, restaurants and cafes to operate as hot food takeaways. This enables them to remain open, despite the requirement to close for on-site consumption.

    The temporary permitted development rights will last for 12 months, after which a full planning application will have to be made if premises are to continue to provide a take-away service.

    Enforcement

    On 13 March 2020 the Government announced a relaxation of the rules restricting the times at which deliveries can be made to retailers -the aim being to improve the supply of essential products such as food and sanitary products.

    To give effect to this change, Robert Jenrick – the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government – issued a ministerial statement which requires local planning authorities to ensure that the enforcement of planning controls, often found in planning conditions or section 106 agreements, do not act as a barrier to deliveries during the period of the crisis.

    Read the full ministerial statement here.

    Decision Making

    The Chief Planning Officer has urged local planning authorities to continue to provide the best service possible in the circumstances. However, it is inevitable that there will be some disruption and delays to decision making.

    In order to maintain services, options include the increased use of delegated powers and agreeing extensions to target determination dates with applicants.

    Section 78 of the Coronavirus Act 2020, which came into force on 25 March 2020, enables the Secretary of State to make regulations which will enable “virtual planning committees” to take place.

    This power applies to meetings held before 7 May 2021. It remains to be seen how this will work in practice and how quickly each local planning authority can put in place the necessary arrangements for its area.

    Planning Appeals

    The Planning Inspectorate has issued guidance regarding the conduct of planning appeals. The guidance is likely to be updated as matters progress, however, the current guidance is available here.

    As of 25 March 2020, no site visits, hearing and inquiries will take place. The Planning Inspectorate are considering whether alternative arrangements for appeals can be put in place, for example holding ‘virtual hearings’ or converting hearings into written representation appeals.

    We will continue to monitor ongoing changes in this area and will provide further updates when information becomes available.

    As much as possible it is still ‘business as usual’ at Brachers. If you require any support relating to planning, health and safety or regulatory issues, then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

    Can we help?

    Take a look at our Planning page for useful information, resources, guidance, details of our team and how we may be able to help you

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