Further to Friday’s announcement from Boris Johnson that bars and restaurants are to close, specific changes have been made to the UK planning system to ensure that supply chains and retail businesses can meet increased demands, while also allowing some high street operators to serve people staying at home during this exceptional time.

Each of the relevant administrations throughout the UK have taken steps to relax enforcement procedures to ensure planning controls are not a barrier to deliveries over the period of disruption caused by the coronavirus. This flexibility means that deliveries of food and other essential items can be made to retailers throughout the day and night where necessary, minimising disruption to the supply chains. The Scottish Government has also extended relaxation to store opening hours.

Additionally, the Communities Secretary has announced that Westminster will take steps to temporarily relax permitted development rights to allow pubs and restaurants/cafes (within use classes A3/A4) to trade as takeaways (use class A5) for up to a year. Further details on this will emerge in emergency legislation, but current indications are that businesses will only be required to tell the local planning authority when the new use begins and ends. 

Similar moves have been made in Scotland and Northern Ireland, with those administrations taking the slightly different approach to relax enforcement action against any bar or restaurant/cafe operators who change to a takeaway function over the next few months. These efforts are all intended to support what are traditionally High Street businesses, and to allow them to maximise opportunities to maintain a revenue stream during the coronavirus crisis.