The current pandemic has hit the hospitality industry hard seeing pubs and restaurants across the country forced to shut their doors. With businesses desperately trying to find innovative ways to stay afloat, the Government has responded by introducing secondary legislation, the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2020, which came into force at 10.00 a.m. on 24th March 2020.

What is the legislation?

The aim of the legislation, is to grant permitted development rights for a change of use from Class A3 (restaurants and cafes), Class A4 (drinking establishments), a mixed use within Classes A3 and A4, and a drinking establishment with expanded food provisions, to a use for the provision of takeaway food, which includes any use within Class A5 (hot food takeaways) and any hot or cold pre-prepared food for takeaway or delivery.

Up until last week, in order to convert pubs and restaurants to takeaways, a change of use by way of a planning application was necessary. However, from 24 March 2020 to 23 March 2021, these emergency measures will allow establishments to have this temporary change of use without the need for an application. The local planning will still need to be notified of the change of use, but the notice can be given retrospectively.

Points to consider

• The sale of alcohol will continue to be subject to existing licensing laws which is separate from this legislation. Premises licence holders should check their licence conditions and ensure that they are permitted to sell off sales of alcohol before offering takeaways or deliveries of alcohol.
• Have you checked the terms of your lease?
• As a tenant, you will need to consider that whilst this legislation negates the need to apply for change of use from the planning authorities, you may still need to get consent for a change of use of premises from your landlord.
• It is important to bear in mind that some landlords may be reluctant to grant consent if such consent jeopardises “good tenant mix policies”.
• As a landlord, it will be important to ensure that any consent given to change the permitted use is restricted to the timeframe stated in the legislation i.e. until 23 March 2021.
• At the end of this period (or, if earlier, when takeaway food ceases to be provided) the use of the building automatically reverts to its previous lawful use – operators don’t need to take any additional steps other than no longer providing takeaways.

If you have any questions about this article, please contact Stephen Brower or any member of the Commercial Property team.

Please note that this blog is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content of this blog.

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