Temporary rights for hot food takeaways
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) have now announced that planning rules are to be relaxed for pubs and restaurants to operate as hot food takeaways. The effect of the announcement is that all pubs will be allowed to operate as Class A5 to enable them to supply hot food for consumption off the premises – a change that would, ordinarily, require planning permission. The relaxed rules will be for a period of 12 months only for the purpose ensuring that business can continue to operate, whilst minimising social contact. Pubs and restaurants that wish to take advantage of the new relaxed rules must inform the local planning authority of the start date of such new activity. Pubs and restaurants will be able to serve alcohol, but such service will be subject to existing licensing laws.
Relaxation of delivery times to retailers and distribution warehouses
Local authorities have been advised by UK Government not to enforce planning restrictions (temporarily) on deliveries to retailers and distribution centres. This kind of planning restriction is usually included in planning permissions for retail parks/outlets and supermarkets and may restrict numbers and times of deliveries to safeguard residential amenity. Due to current unprecedented demands on food supplies, medication and other essential items, retailers (including pharmacies) need to receive additional deliveries at additional times to ensure that they meet demand.
Guidance from the Planning Inspectorate in relation to appeals
The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) has issued guidance in relation to site visits, hearings, inquiries and other events, which is updated on a daily basis. Following guidance from UK Government to avoid non-essential travel, this will inevitably result in postponement of many of the activities of PINS in relation to planning appeals, local plan examinations, rights of way, Commons Act and similar matters, particularly where a public inquiry or other gathering of the public is involved. PINS have issued guidance that where a case can be decided purely on written representations and submissions and this will not result in unfairness (e.g. by some parties being able to make such representations), then these may be decided as scheduled. Site visits may go ahead where the Inspector is not obliged to use public transport, and where visits can proceed unaccompanied. Those with appeals and other PINS matters schedules are encouraged to email the case officer concerned, but to be aware that they are dealing with a large number of such requests, and advice and protocols are being constantly updated. Be aware that many planning committees have been cancelled for similar reasons, as these are public meetings and not appropriate in the current climate.
Local Authority Decision Making
Local authorities are required to hold meetings to make decisions. The Local Government Act 1972 requires members to be physically present in order for a meeting to take place. The exception to that rule is in Wales, where remote attendance is allowed under the circumstances provided by section 4 of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 provided there is a quorum of 30% physically present. In light of the current pandemic and need for social distancing, LLG and ADSO have issued the following advice to local authorities;