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Relaxation of enforcement of conditions relating to retail distribution

Recent announcements by the MHCLG and the Scottish Government in relation to COVID-19 indicate a relaxation of planning conditions that would otherwise restrict retail deliveries and store opening hours.

The aim is to ensure that essential products are making their way to stores when available and needed, and to ensure that the planning system is not unnecessarily restricting that process.

The statements makes clear that, as a matter of urgency, local planning authorities should take a positive approach to their engagement with food retailers and distributors, as well as the freight industry, to ensure planning controls are not a barrier to food delivery over the period of disruption caused by the coronavirus. Given the current situation, local planning authorities should also not seek to undertake planning enforcement action which would result in unnecessarily restricting deliveries of food and other essential deliveries during this period, having regard to their legal obligations.

This may have a material and positive impact on the operations of some clients in meeting the short-term strong demand for household items and food. Equally, there may also be some local resistance from neighbours whose evening amenity may be adversely affected by the measures.

The government will review this approach once the immediate urgency has subsided.

A copy of the statements can be found at:

As the Coronavirus situation is rapidly evolving, our advice may change in light of government announcements and on-going developments; please consult our Coronavirus COVID-19 hub for our latest thinking.


This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2022.


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