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Planning Regulations Temporarily Relaxed

Wed 18 March 2020

In light of the Government advice for social distancing and self-isolation as a measure to delay spread of COVID-19, planning regulations surrounding change of use for pubs and restaurants are to be temporarily relaxed.

As the nation begins to take extreme measures to protect themselves and those around them from coronavirus, the restaurant trade is set to take a significant hit with reports for some of a 40% downturn in bookings. The Restaurant Group, who own Wagamama, reported a 12.5% decrease in spending over the past two weeks, prior to the social distancing and self-isolation announcement from the Prime Minister earlier this week, suggesting the outlook for these businesses is set to worsen as time progresses.

In a bid to ensure restaurants are able to finance costly overheads for the foreseeable future, Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick, has confirmed that the Government will implement measures so that pubs and restaurants can operate a hot food takeaway service for customers that are staying at home; these measures will come into force as soon as possible and will last for a maximum of 12 months.

Currently, planning permission is required for businesses to carry out a change of use to a hot food takeaway. The Government has confirmed regulations will be relaxed to enable businesses to deliver this service without a planning application, however, businesses will be required to inform their local authority when the new use begins and ends.

It is important to note that if the premises are leasehold, the operator tenant may still require landlord’s consent for the extended use.

Jenrick said: “We are committed to doing everything we can to tackle the pandemic and support people, businesses and communities through this difficult time. These changes will provide vital flexibility to pubs and restaurants and will ensure people are able to safely stay at home while still supporting some of the great local businesses across this country.”