Scottish government tells planning authorities to relax restrictions on retailers to help ease coronavirus crisis

Planners should "take a positive approach" in allowing retailers to work around planning restrictions on delivery and opening times for their stores in the face of "exceptional challenges" arising from the coronavirus pandemic, Scottish Government advice has said.

Deliveries: calls for planners to be flexible over enforcement (pic: US Dept of Agriculture, Flickr)
Deliveries: calls for planners to be flexible over enforcement (pic: US Dept of Agriculture, Flickr)

In a letter to local authority chief planners published yesterday, John McNairney, Scotland’s chief planner, and Kevin Stewart, minister for local government, housing and planning, advised that planning restrictions on retail delivery times and opening times should be eased in the face of the coronvirus crisis.

"The Scottish Government consider that, as a matter of urgency, 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", the letter said.

Conditions issued with planning consents in relation to retail consents often place restrictions on delivery and opening times.

The letter said that a "positive approach should be taken in relation to ensuring that stores can remain open to serve the local community."

It added: "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."

The letter said that the Scottish Government "recognises that the increased use of night-time deliveries could have a temporary impact on local residents". It added the Scottish Government "will review the need for the measures outlined in this letter after three months, and it is the intention to withdraw it once the immediate urgency has subsided."

Planning asked the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government if it would be issuing similar advice in England, but the department did not respond to our requests.

The Planning Inspectorate has this week issued coronavirus advice for inspectors.

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