Lockdown planning reforms could become permanent

06/09/2021
Dominic Browne

Temporary measures that allowed high streets to make more use of pedestrian areas during the pandemic could be made permanent following a government consultation.

Permitted development rights (PDRs) allowed more al fresco dining and opened up streets to more pedestrian use. However, concerns were also raised about how the planning reforms could impact pavement accessibility for wheelchair users and the partially sighted.

The Government said it is aiming to make some of the reforms permanent 'so that people can continue to enjoy outdoor hospitality and local attractions, and businesses can innovate, as we build back better from the pandemic'.

The consultation contains proposed changes to two time-limited permitted development rights in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015:

Class BA of Part 12 permitting for markets to be held by or on behalf of local authorities. 

As lockdown restrictions were eased in June 2020, the Government implemented a temporary PDR which allowed markets to be held by, or on behalf of local councils for an unlimited number of days, including the provision of moveable structures related to this use.

This supported communities to hold outdoor markets and encouraged the use of outdoor public spaces, both to increase public health initiatives and the reopening of the high street. The Government is proposing that this right be made permanent.

Previously there was a 14 days allowance per calendar year to hold a market under the temporary use of land permitted development right (Part 12, Class B).

Class BB of Part 4 permitting moveable structures within the curtilage of a pub, café, restaurant, or historic visitor attractions

In April 2021, moveable structures such as marquees and additional seating were allowed for the first time in the grounds of listed buildings, helping support the hospitality and tourism sectors.

The Government is now seeking views on making this permanent subject to a number of factors - including a limitation of 56 days per year. Views are also sought on introducing a height limit of four metres, and a size limit of no more than 50% of the existing buildings on site.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said: 'As part of our vision to transform high streets into thriving places to work, visit and live, we intend to make as many of these measures permanent fixtures of British life as possible.'

The consultation also contains proposed new permitted development rights to support the delivery of infrastructure on Ministry of Defence sites, including providing more accommodation, workspace, and training facilities.

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