Further to our update (here) on 16th March 2020, the Chief Planner has issued a further Letter to help in the effort to mitigate against the impacts of this virus.
The first letter issued by the Chief Planner urged Local Authorities to take a relaxed approach to the enforcement of conditions related to delivery and opening times for retailers and distribution centres. Now, he has gone another step further and issued a similar decree urging Local Authorities to not undertake planning enforcement action which would result in the restriction of public houses and restaurants providing takeaway services on a temporary basis.
The logic is clear and fits in with the wider governmental support for businesses which are likely to be hit hard by the effects of combating the Coronavirus outbreak. The Letter notes that many public houses and restaurants do not have planning permission to operate as a takeaway premises.
However, the Chief Planner recognises the opportunity to support businesses by allowing them to try and maintain a revenue stream; whilst allowing members of the public to access services with a reduced risk of exposure to the virus.
The Chief Planner notes:
“The purpose of this Chief Planner Letter is to make clear that the Scottish Government consider that, as a matter of urgency, planning authorities should not seek to undertake planning enforcement action which would result in unnecessarily restricting public houses and restaurants providing takeaway services on a temporary basis during the current exceptional circumstances”
As is the case with the loosening of retailer delivery restrictions, these measures will be reviewed in three months, with the intention to withdraw the measures once the crisis has subsided.
This measure represents another positive and sensible move from the Chief Planner and Scottish Government, helping businesses in an unprecedented time. Again, it is likely that some places may be negatively affected where such businesses are located near residential areas. There may be such impacts with increased street parking and drop-offs/pick-ups. Presumably, these restaurants/public houses are allowed to operate within their current opening times, but are they allowed to stay open later if they so wish to without enforcement action? Moreover, a measure like this would benefit from clarity from other regulatory departments including the licensing board where alcohol is involved in a sale.
This is a small piece of assistance for businesses which will likely require further support over the coming months.
Please get in touch with our Planning and Development Team if you would like any further information on the contents of the letter.