Measures to Enable Businesses to Operate Safely and Support Economic Recovery

The Secretary of State recently laid a written statement which emphasised that local authorities should continue to take a flexible and positive approach to planning enforcement action. This will help support economic recovery and support social distancing while it remains and England moves towards step 2 of the COVID roadmap.

Local planning authorities should not undertake enforcement which would result in negative or unnecessary restrictions of retail hours between 7am to 10pm Monday to Saturday. The current Written Ministerial Statement about planning enforcement and the delivery of food and other essential goods to retailers will be extended until Step 4 of the roadmap

Encouraging flexible construction working hours will remain in place until 30 September 2021. This follows from the current Written Ministerial Statement.

The Governments intentions to support the hospitality sector as the economy reopens allows for a temporary permitted development right to allow pubs, restaurants and cafes to erect temporary and moveable outdoor structures for the summer season.

For the first time, this will also apply to listed buildings provided there is no harm to the heritage asset. Legislation will be laid at the earliest opportunity.

Changes to the Current Planning System Consultation

Possible changes to the planning policy will be made in due course and through a written Ministerial Statement with an implementation date set out on the statement. This statement will set out the policy framework for first homes and include: policy detail for the process of setting developer contributions for first homes, types of development that are exempt from the requirement to provide first homes, transitional arrangements that will apply to local and neighbourhood plans, depending on the level advancement through the planning process/application. Finally, policy framework for first home exception sites. It will also set out the Government’s position on the proposal to raise the small sites threshold, following feedback.

Progressing Local Plans Neighbourhood Plans

According to the recent Written Ministerial Statement, 91% of local planning authorities have now adopted a Local Plan. However, many are not kept up to date and in March 2020 the Government issued a clear deadline of December 2023 for all authorities to have the Local Plans in place. This key date is important to help ensure that the economy can rebound strongly from COVID-19. Completion of these plans will help to ensure that building can be better and continue to deliver the homes required across England. Neighbourhood Plans provide support to local authorities and give communities a great say in shaping the development and growth within their local areas.