COVID-19: Planning measures announced to ease the burden and economic impact of COVID-19 upon restaurants and bars23rd March 2020 - Published by Victoria Leam
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced planning measures this week intended to ease the burden and economic impact of COVID-19 upon restaurants and bars and provide a practical solution to those who need to self-isolate or maintain social distance.
The government intends to relax planning rules to allow cafes, restaurants and pubs to operate as hot food takeaways during the COVID-19 pandemic, and acknowledged that legal flexibility is required during this difficult time. As our many clients who own or run restaurants and bars may be aware, planning permission is currently required for a change of use of a restaurant or bar to a hot food takeaway, unless that takeaway use is ancillary to the main use as a restaurant or bar. The promised planning regulations will allow businesses to provide a hot food takeaway service without having to make a planning application to their local planning authority to do so.
Although this is good news for bars and restaurant owners who have been forced to close their doors, our clients should be aware that the new rules will only apply to hot food and drinks; alcoholic drinks will continue to be subject to existing licensing laws. This ‘permitted development’ right will allow the temporary change of use of a pub (use class A4) and a restaurant or cafe (use class A3) to a hot-food take away (use class A5) for up to 12 months only and the local planning authority will need to be told when the new use begins and ends.
The new regulations are not yet in place, but the Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick MP confirmed they will be brought in as soon as possible to provide much needed reassurance to bar and restaurant owners and those who are isolated alike. Until the new rules come into play, should bars or restaurants begin to provide a hot food takeaway service, in these current, extraordinary times, it is our view that local planning authorities are unlikely to see enforcement action as ‘expedient’, although the risk of enforcement action, however small, would remain until the regulations are brought into force.
For further advice, please contact Bob Sadler in our planning team on 0161 838 7991 or email email@example.com.