New plans to help boost the construction industry post Coronavirus Pandemic have been announced by UK Housing Minster Robert Jenrick MP.

Planning permission deadlines are to be extended, with planning appeals to speed up and builders being allowed to work more flexible hours following agreement with local councils are just some of the measures Mr Jenrick announced last week (June 22nd, 2020).

Planning permissions usually expire after three years if work has not started onsite, but sites with consent which have an expiry date between the start of lockdown and the end of this year will see their planning consent extended to April 1st, 2020. This is to prevent work that has been temporarily disrupted by the pandemic from stopping altogether.

The UK Government estimates that by the end of this month more than 400 residential permissions providing more than 24,000 new homes would have expired. These new measures will help the developments and more resume as the economy recovers.

Other new measures will also permanently grant the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) the ability to use more than one procedure – written representations, hearings and inquiries – at the same time that they are dealing with a planning appeal, enabling appeals to happen much faster.

Last year, a pilot programme tested this approach and implemented recommendations of the Roswell Review, which more than halved the time taken for appeal inquiries, from 47 weeks to 23 weeks.

This will also help the construction industry to quickly agree more flexible construction site working hours with their local councils for a temporary period. This will also make it easier to follow public health guidance onsite, by staggering workers arrival times, public transport will be less busy, meaning the risk of infection will also be reduced.

Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “Building the homes the country needs is central to the mission of this government and is an important part of our plans to recover from the impact of the coronavirus.

New laws will enable us to speed up the pace of planning appeals and save hundreds of construction sites from being cancelled before they have a chance to get spades in the ground, helping to protect hundreds of thousands of jobs and create many others.

Taken together, these measures will help to keep workers safe and our economy moving as we work together to bounce back from the pandemic.”

Last weeks announcement builds on measures to support the economy and protect the capacity of the construction sector, including:

  • Introducing more than £330 billion of loans and guarantees to help firms continue operating
  • Deferring self-assessment payments until 2021 – crucial for a sector in which many are self-employed
  • Providing households across the country with reassurance such as 3-month mortgage holidays, including for landlords, alongside a ban on tenant evictions which has been extended to 5 months
  • Safely reopening the housing market, helping estate agents, conveyancers, removals firms and the wider construction and property industry to return to work while following social distancing guidelines
  • Launching a Charter with the Home Builders Federation, helping construction sites reopen in line with health and safety guidance

The government continues to listen to all parts of industry to see what further support may be required.

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