COVID-19- Pubs and restaurants permitted development rights

9th April 2020

The government’s emergency regulations to combat spread of the coronavirus, introduced on 21 March 2020, combined with the ‘stay at home’ message, is having a far-reaching impact on every aspect of the UK economy, but in particular the restaurant and hospitality sector.

As one of a number of practical steps aimed at helping as many businesses as possible to survive the economic impact of COVID-19, the government recently announced a relaxation in planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate as hot food takeaways.

Communities Secretary, the Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP commented: “We are committed to doing everything we can to tackle the pandemic and support people, businesses and communities through this difficult time. These changes will provide vital flexibility to pubs and restaurants and will ensure people are able to safely stay at home while still supporting some of the great local businesses across this country.”

Change of use

When changing the use of a building, it generally requires planning permission if it constitutes a material change of use.

However, permitted development rights allow certain changes of use without having to apply for planning permission.

Prior to the recent announcement, there were no permitted development rights to allow a change of use from a restaurant or pub to a hot food takeaway. A full planning application would need to be submitted to permit such a change, usually taking around two months to conclude.

With the change announced, the government has amended the permitted development rights legislation to allow the temporary change of use from a restaurant or pub to a hot food takeaway, for a period of one year only.

The sale of alcoholic beverages will continue to be subject to existing licensing laws.

Practicality and flexibility

In conjunction with the recently announced relaxation of planning enforcement action relating to delivery hours restrictions for supermarkets and the like, these are welcome practical measures that will hopefully help many of these businesses survive.

Given the unprecedented situation in which we find ourselves and the speed at which the crisis in the UK is evolving, it is essential the government continues to take advice from business sectors feeling the pressure and allow more flexibility as they try to adapt.

For further advice in respect of permitted development rights, please contact Neil Faunch of Ansons Solicitors Commercial Property team on 01543 267191 or at