Following consultation with various industry bodies, the Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government issued further guidance on 13 May to facilitate progress on sites and to provide flexibility in progressing planning applications during the lock-down restrictions.
- Allowing builders to agree more flexible construction site working hours with their local council. This will make it easier to follow public health guidance onsite and stagger builders’ arrival times, making public transport less busy and so reducing the risk of infection.
- Enabling planning authorities and developers to publicise planning applications through social media instead of having to rely on posters and leaflets, helping unblock the service and allowing it to support new development.
- Providing local councils with more flexibility to support smaller developers by allowing them to defer Community Infrastructure Levy payments. This will help smaller developers struggling with their cashflow due to the pandemic while ensuring communities still receive funding towards local infrastructure in the longer term.
This will be welcome news for applicants and planners at a time when restrictions contained in permissions and also in Regulations have the potential to stifle much-needed development. However, there is likely to be some push-back from local groups if councils are overly flexible in adjusting a site’s hours of operation. There may also be resistance to the use of social media for publication purposes as it may exclude some interested parties from notification.