Coronavirus legal update: a helping hand for developers and construction workers?


Yesterday the Government published draft guidance relating to a new fast track deemed consent route to amend planning restrictions on construction working hours, and enable urgent changes to support safe construction working, e.g. staggered starts and finishes to support social distancing.

Section 74B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 provides a temporary, fast track deemed consent route for developers to apply to the relevant local planning authority ("LPA") to vary existing conditions that limit construction site working hours. The LPA has 14 days to consider such applications and there is no application fee.

If an application is approved, this will temporarily amend planning restrictions on construction working hours until 1 April 2021, unless an earlier date is requested by the developer or agreed with the LPA. 

If the LPA does not determine the application within 14 days, then the revised working hours are deemed to have been consented to, and construction can take place in accordance with these new hours. 

This new application route applies where planning has been granted for the development of land. It does not apply to mining operations or proposals to alter or enlarge a single house. 

This will be welcome news for developers who have suffered delays to their construction programmes as a result of lockdown and social distancing requirements; and hopefully it will enable more construction workers to get back to work safely. Clearly developers will need to think about mitigating how extended hours could impact the local community and residents, and we expect LPAs will be wary of antisocial hours outside 7am and 9pm unless such mitigation measures are in place. It will be interesting to see how much uptake there is for this! 

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