Updated Jul 30, 2020

Business and economic recovery planned through new Act

The Government has published the Business and Planning Act 2020 which contains a range of measures aimed at helping businesses and the economy recover from the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had.

The provisions of the Act address different business sectors as well as the planning process, introducing both temporary and permanent changes to legislation which will hopefully make things easier for businesses and the economy to transition from the period of lockdown to recovery.


When lockdown measures were introduced in March 2020 in a bid to tackle and slow down the spread of Covid-19, many businesses had to cease trading. This period will have had an obvious and significant impact on businesses across the UK, all of which now face the strange prospect of re-opening their doors and beginning trade once more in a very different world.

The recovery will, therefore, be difficult without additional support.

That is where this Act aims to help. It removes some short term obstacles for some business sectors, albeit temporarily, to help them bounce back more quickly following lockdown. Some of the measures of the Act are described below.

Changes to the planning system

The planning system has faced its own challenges during lockdown but has continued to operate throughout this period to try and support the economy and construction.

However, to ensure the system in England continues to operate effectively and that planning continues to support the construction sector and the economy, the Act introduces several new temporary measures, including:

  • a way in which developers can request that working hours on construction sites are extended, where such hours are included as a planning condition on planning permission;
  • an extension to the expiry of some planning permissions and listed building consents to ensure that planned developments which have not yet been started are given more time to be implemented given the disruption that the pandemic has had on the construction industry;
  • a similar extension granted in relation to outline planning permission;
  • more flexibility for the Planning Inspectorate to choose which type of procedure it will use to determine planning appeals - i.e. written representations, hearings or local inquiries (these amendments are permanent). The change will also cover appeals relating to listed buildings and conservation areas and also to hazardous substances consent;
  • temporary removal of the requirement for the Mayor of London to make the current Spatial Development Strategy available for physical inspection and to allow hard copies to be provided on request.

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