Business and Planning Bill: Briefing for Lords Stages

The Government’s Business and Planning Bill is intended to help the economy recovery from the effects the Covid-19 outbreak.

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On 6 July 2020, the second reading of the Business and Planning Bill is scheduled to take place in the House of Lords.

The bill includes measures intended to support specific sectors of the economy affected by the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent safety measures introduced by the Government to limit the spread of the virus. The bill would:

  • Establish a new fast-track procedure by which cafes, pubs and restaurants in England may apply for temporary permission from local authorities to put chairs and tables outside their premises.
  • Temporarily allow licensed premises in England and Wales to make ‘off-sales’ regardless of whether this is currently allowed in their alcohol licence.
  • Ease the requirements for accessing the Government’s Bounce Back Loans scheme through which businesses are able to apply for government guaranteed loans of up to 25% of their turnover, to maximum of £50,000.
  • Implement measures intended to ease the backlog in vehicle testing and driving licences for goods, passenger and public service vehicles.
  • Enable developers to make an application to local planning authorities to amend restrictions on construction site working hours.
  • Extend the date on which certain planning permission and listed building consents are set to expire, enabling developments delayed by the Covid-19 outbreak to go ahead.
  • Make changes to the planning appeals process and the consultation procedure for the Spatial Development Strategy for London.

The bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 25 June 2020. Second reading and all remaining stages took place on 29 June 2020. The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma, said the bill would “provide an adrenaline boost” to sectors of the UK economy affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. The measures in the bill received cross-party support. However, MPs including the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Ed Miliband, argued the Government needed to do more to support the UK’s economic recovery, including increasing long-term financial support for those sectors worst affected. Concerns were also raised regarding whether local authorities and police forces would have sufficient funding to combat anti-social behaviour in public spaces arising from increased outside drinking. One Opposition amendment to do with pavement licences was made with Government support.

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