Planning: The Impact of Covid-19

Apr 15, 2020

As we enter another week of the Covid-19 lockdown the onward impact of the lockdown and social distancing measures are starting to become clear in the context of planning. Here we look at 2 areas of the planning procedure affected by the current pandemic.

1. Planning Appeals

Following updated government guidance, the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) announced on 1st April that they have suspended all casework events (including site visits, hearings and inquiries) until further notice. Anecdotally we have heard that some matters have been rescheduled by PINS from April to September, with others having been postponed indefinitely. The full impact of such postponements will be felt for months, particularly as PINS are still accepting new appeals during this time. What is immediately clear is that this temporary cessation of certain casework events will have ongoing repercussions on the planning system which will inevitably have consequences for developers and landowners, particularly those who have ongoing contractual arrangements in relation to the sale, purchase and development of land.

Applicants should be aware that although there are no Planning Inspectorate staff working from either PINS’s Bristol or Cardiff offices (until further notice) new appeals can still be submitted within the usual timeframes, however at this time any application should be made online via the appeals casework portal.

If you have an ongoing agreement that includes requirements relating to planning applications or appeals it is worth reviewing the terms to ensure that you can still comply, or if any variations need to be agreed.

2. Change of Use

As many of us will have experienced over the last few weeks, many cafés, bars and restaurants have turned to takeaway and home delivery services. This sudden rise in takeaway use has been formalised by the government by the introduction of new temporary permitted development rights. These rights were introduced from 10am on 24th March to allow a new permitted change of use from use class A3 (restaurants and cafes) or A4 (drinking establishment), or mixed use within these classes, to use class A5 (takeaway). The right runs for a year from 24 March 2020 to 23 March 2021 and there is only 1 pre-condition and that is to notify the local planning authority that the premises is being used or will be used for provision of takeaway food. There is no requirement for prior approval or timing for issue of this notification, however it is best practice to notify the local planning authority before commencing change of use if at all possible.

The permitted development rights will apply until the premises reverts to previous use, or (if earlier) when takeaway use ceases. Any proprietor of a café, bar or restaurant should be aware that although this deals with the designated planning use of the premises, the permitted development right doesn’t deal with other issues, such as the terms of any lease of the premises or separate licencing issues.

The above is intended as a brief guide only and should not be relied upon as specific legal advice. The details are correct as at 14 April 2020.

If you require further advice regarding any Real Estate matter, please contact our Real Estate department, call 01276 686222 or visit

This reflects the law at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought as appropriate in relation to a particular matter.





























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