Permitted development rules to be flexed to fight COVID-19

Posted by Keith Lancaster, 18th March 2020
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Pubs and restaurants will be allowed to operate as hot-food takeaways as planning measures are relaxed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

To help control the spread of the coronavirus, Boris Johnson has advised the British public to avoid pubs, restaurants and bars.

In a bid to support businesses and to help ensure people can safely stay at home, the Government has confirmed that planning measures will be introduced to allow pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways and delivery services, without needing to apply for planning permission.

The current law

The Town and Country Planning Act (Use Classes) Order 1987 identifies Use Classes. Generally, if an establishment wishes to change how they use a building/land from one Use Class to another, then unless they benefit from ‘permitted development rights’ they must apply for planning permission in order to do so.

Currently, if a restaurant (Use Class A3 – restaurants and cafés) or a pub (Use Class A4 – drinking establishment) wish to operate as a hot-food takeaway (Use Class A5), this will constitute a change of use and an application for planning permission will be required.

The changes

In an attempt to support the hospitality industry, secondary legislation will be introduced to give permitted development rights allowing the temporary change of use of a pub and/or restaurant to a hot-food takeaway. This will be for a period of up to 12 months. This will not apply to the sale of alcoholic drinks, which will continue to be subject to existing licensing laws.

To benefit from this permitted development right, businesses will be required to inform their local planning authority as to when the new use will begin and end.

These measures will be introduced as soon as possible, though the specific date has not yet been confirmed.

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