The Business and Planning Bill 2020 was presented before parliament last Thursday 25th June and was debated by MP’s in the House of Commons on Monday 29th June 2020, where it was read for the Third time and passed. Now that the Bill has completed all its stages in the House of Commons, it has now moved to the House of Lords for consideration. The Bill had its first reading in the House of Lords on 30th June and the second reading, a chance for members to discuss the key purpose and principles of the bill, is scheduled in for 6th July.
Given the speed at which the Bill is being rapidly sped through parliament, it is likely it will be passed through the House of Lords and be given Royal Assent swiftly.
Part 3 of the Bill includes measures designed to support businesses selling food and drink, such as cafes, pubs and restaurants (in England) by introducing a temporary fast track process for these businesses to obtain permission from local authorities for the placement of furniture, such as tables and chairs, on the pavement outside their premises. This will enable restaurants to spill out onto the streets to allow them to maximise their capacity whilst adhering to social distancing guidelines.
The Bill has introduced a streamlined procedure so that businesses serving food and drink can apply for a temporary pavement licence swiftly with ‘one form’. The new procedure will:
- Reduce the consultation period for applications from 28 calendar days to 7 days;
- Grant consent to an application after 14 days if a local authority does not issue a decision;
- Cap the application fee at £100;
- Enable the local authority to revoke a licence if there were risks to public health or safety or if it risked causing anti-social behaviour or public nuisance.
Ahead of the easing of lockdown in England this weekend, as restaurant and pub businesses prepare to open on 4th July, some local authorities have already worked to implement these changes. Liverpool BID, together with Liverpool Chamber and Liverpool City Council have decided to close two of their main streets to traffic across the summer to allow restaurants and pubs to make use of the space. All independent restaurants in the city can apply for a grant to help them purchase furniture to trade outside and the outdoor seating license fee has been waived.
Jim Tarzey, Chairman of Pegasus Group comments: “As a planning consultant to the hospitality industry I see this as a positive and proactive attempt by the Government to introduce primary legislation to assist and help restaurants, cafes and bars in City and Town Centre locations. Once this new law is passed, it will help them adapt their business models quickly, to retrieve lost revenue as a result of the Social Distancing Laws that will apply for the duration of the summer. It will clearly allow these businesses to capitalise on the opportunity for increased alfresco dining in appropriate locations on the pavement and highway areas immediately fronting their premises. The Planning and Licensing System has responded well to assist these businesses which are vital to our own wellbeing, as well as health of our economy.”