In light of the continuing outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the many responses to this from the Scottish Government, including emergency funding via Business Rates (covered in a separate G+S update here), the Chief Planner has issued a letter to Local Planning Authorities (11th March 2020).
The Chief Planner, John McNairney has issued a letter in relation to the relaxation of enforcement of conditions relating to retail distribution. Many supermarkets, other retailers, and distribution centres are subject to planning conditions (attached to planning permissions) which restrict delivery vehicles to certain time periods to make the development acceptable. For example, a supermarket near a residential area may be restricted from early morning and late night deliveries to prevent noise, traffic and other local amenity issues.
Due to the pressures that COVID-19 is placing on the country, the Chief Planner has recognised that Local Planning Authorities should take a sensible and pro-active response to the enforcement of planning conditions which restrict deliveries. This loosening of restrictions will help In maintaining effective supply chains and for shops to remain stocked.
As such, the Letter advises that Local Planning Authorities should not seek to undertake planning enforcement action on retailers and businesses that require to have deliveries made outwith prescribed hours; and for stores to remain open earlier/later if required.
Specifically, it is stated:
“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 hard barrier to food delivery over the period of the coronavirus… Given the exceptional challenges from the coronavirus and the resultant temporary pressures placed on relevant retailers and distributors, planning authorities should not seek to undertake planning enforcement action which would result in unnecessarily restricting deliveries of food and other essential deliveries during this time, or in regard to extended store opening times, having regard to their legal obligations.”
Recognising that that there may be negative impacts on local residents, a review of these measures will take place in three months.
It is encouraging to see positive steps being taken by the Chief Planner in this challenging period. This will afford Local Authorities the opportunity to collaborate with retailers in overcoming any delivery challenges and relieve any pressures on supply. It will be interesting to see what happens in three months’ time and if an extension to this direction will be needed (and for how long). Hopefully, this approach is echoed in other regulatory departments to ensure a fully joined-up strategy.
Please get in touch with our Planning and Development Team if you would like any further information on the status of such planning conditions or contents of the letter.