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Coronavirus - Planning Updates
Protocol: Consideration of Request from Developers to Relax Working Hours Condition
On the 13th May a written ministerial statement (WMS) was published by the Government on planning and construction working hours. This was accompanied by planning guidance on interpretation and implementation. The WMS expects local planning authorities (LPA) to extend construction working hours temporarily until 9pm Monday to Saturday, unless there are compelling reasons not to. It forms part of the recovery strategy to help developers to carry out construction work without planning conditions acting as a barrier. It aims, where appropriate, to allow developers the flexibility necessary to facilitate the safe operation of their sites and to proceed at a pace with work otherwise delayed because of COVID-19.
The WMS and associated guidance makes the case for developers who need to adapt their normal working practices because of the effects of COVID- 19. It states that: ‘with immediate effect local authorities should take a swift and positive approach to requests from developers and site operators for greater flexibility around construction working hours.’
This protocol provides a framework for a consistent approach as to how requests from developers to extend their working hours are to be considered which runs until 13 May 2021.
MSDC would normally attach a planning condition to restrict working hours on planning permissions for major development. This is to protect local residents and businesses from traffic, noise and other unacceptable amenity issues. The standard condition restricts working hours to the following times:
‘No work for the implementation of the development hereby permitted shall be undertaken on the site on Bank or Public Holidays or at any time other than between the hours of 8am and 6pm Monday to Fridays and between 9am and 1pm on Saturdays.’
New National Guidance
Against the context above the Government proposes the following approach:
- Developers should expect their LPA to grant temporary changes to construction working hours until 9pm or later, 6 days a week, wherever possible. Requests should be proportionate and not involve working on Sundays or bank holidays.
- A developer wishing to amend the conditioned working hours are advised to contact the LPA.
- Where there are modest or short term changes to working hours, this may be agreed informally with the LPA and they should use their discretion not to enforce against a breach of working hours (no definitions are provided).
- Where long or more significant changes to working hours are required, a formal application may be requested by the LPA to amend the condition or construction management plan (CMP).
- The Government expects LPA’s to support reasonable requests and should reject proposals only where there are ‘compelling’ reasons. These include significant impact on neighbouring businesses or uses, such as care homes or where impacts on densely populated areas would be unreasonable.
- A soft and user-friendly process is expected with decisions issued within 10 days where possible.
Mid Sussex District Council’s Approach
- All requests will be subject to consultation with the Council’s Environmental Protection Officer.
- Subject to views of the EPO, requests for modest or short-term changes to construction working hours subject of a condition or Construction Management Plan, will be agreed informally in writing. Following the government’s guidance on an expeditious process, the Council is not proposing to amend the original planning condition. A letter will be written to the developer which explains that the informal agreement is conditional on the extended hours not causing a significant problem to the amenities of neighbours. The informal agreement is subject to withdrawal and enforcement of the original condition can take place if justifiable complaints are sustained by the EPO.
- Where acceptable, hours will be extended until 9pm Monday to Saturday with no working on Sundays or bank holidays. Earlier starts before 9am will not be permitted unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as there being no sensitive development adjacent.
- Where a longer term or more significant change to working hours is proposed, particularly where there are sensitive receptors adjacent to the site, such as a care home, hospital, dense residential development or a business that requires quiet, for example, a planning application to amend the condition or CMP will be required (S73 application). This would be publicised and interested parties would be able to comment on the application.
- Modest or short term changes to a condition or CMP will be considered at officer level as these decisions are informal and do not change the original condition/CMP.
- Longer term or more significant changes will require a S73 planning application and will be considered under the current scheme of delegation. Such applications may be delegated subject to consultation with a Chair of a Planning Committee and ward members.
Business and Planning Act 2020 Section 93B Additional Environmental Approval
The Business and Planning Act provides for the extension of certain planning permissions to help support economic recovery as we emerge from the pandemic.
The form should be used where your planning permission has lapsed between the period 31st March 2020 and 19th August 2020 and you wish it to be extended for a temporary period until the 1st May 2021.
The Act specifies that no ‘Additional Environmental Approval’ may be granted or deemed to be granted after the 31st December 2020 (except on an appeal lodged on or before that date) and thus applications should be submitted before the 2nd December 2020.
Further information, including information requirements to support the application, may be obtained from the link below: