Communities secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP has announced that planning rules will be relaxed so that pubs and restaurants can operate as hot food takeaways during the coronavirus outbreak.
This is part of a series of practical steps the government is taking to support businesses and help people who need to self-isolate. Planning permission is currently required for businesses to carry out a change of use to a hot food takeaway, however the government has now confirmed the regulations will be relaxed to enable businesses to deliver this service without a planning application.
The government will introduce a time limited permitted development right through secondary legislation to allow the temporary change of use of a pub (A4 - drinking establishment) and a restaurant (A3 – restaurants and cafes) to a hot-food take away. The measures will be put in place as soon as possible for a period of up to 12 months only and will apply to hot food and drinks. Alcoholic drinks will continue to be subject to existing licensing laws.
The communities secretary 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.”
This will be welcome news for some pub and restaurant operators who were left reeling after Monday afternoon’s announcement by the Prime Minister that pubs and restaurants are not being forced to close, but people should avoid these places. Theywill now have the capability to offer takeaway services.
Many smaller operators have remained open and advised customers of increased cleaning and hygiene processes, whilst also pleading with those who are feeling unwell to stay at home. The new secondary legislation should dovetail with the relaxation of planning enforcement action relating to delivery hours restrictions announced recently and will go hand in hand with the relief package announced yesterday by the chancellor.