Coronavirus: Insurance, Commercial Rent and Planning Regulations
Support With Commercial Rent
MHCLG announced that commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction. This is included in the emergency Coronavirus Bill currently going through Parliament, and will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next three months.
Relaxation On Rules For Businesses
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy have produced a list of 15 rules that have been temporarily relaxed to make it easier for businesses to continue working through the disruption caused by Covid-19. These include:
- Destroying spoilt beer: Temporary measure to help brewers and publicans
- Eviction protection for commercial tenants: A ban on eviction for businesses who cannot pay their rent.
- Pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways: Pubs and restaurants will not need planning permission.
- Hotel accommodation for key workers: Letter to hotel chief executives allowing them to offer accommodation to support key workers and vulnerable people.
There changes being made to the current ‘Tables and Chairs (T&C) licence’ that is soon to become a ‘Pavement licence’.
This change will be introduced by the new Business and Planning Bill that will only be in place until the end of September 2022 to deal with the current situation. The purpose of the pavement licence is to help businesses and high streets recover and regenerate post-COVID as well as help businesses comply with social distancing regulations whilst still being able to trade.
What this means for businesses:
- All businesses with an existing T&C licence issued by KCC Highways should have received details from KCC of new conditions of their licence in regard to social distancing etc.
- Businesses need to follow these conditions. From 4th July, District and Borough representatives are able to approach businesses if they are not following these new conditions and they may need to ask them to rearrange their tables and chairs. This devolution of enforcement powers has been agreed between KCC and the Districts.
- If a business has an existing T&C licence, then it remains valid until it expires. Upon expiry, they will need to apply for a Pavement licence from their local District or Borough.
- For new applicants, District and Boroughs are not quite ready to issue Pavement licences yet but they hope to go live in about 3 weeks’ time. KCC will still be consulted on licence applications but KCC Highways and districts are working together to make the consultation process quick and efficient and KCC is supporting Districts in the handover of the responsibility for these licences.
- There is no point in businesses applying to KCC for a new T&C licence from now as it won’t be processed and they will be issued a refund.
Letter to local authorities on supporting the reopening of outdoor hospitality
The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick has written a letter to local authorities outlining that in step 2 of the Government’s roadmap (no earlier than 12 April) hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people outdoor and the measures to support the safe re-opening of hospitality businesses. The letter states:
Al fresco dining
- Continuation of the simplified route for pubs, restaurants and cafes to obtain a temporary pavement licence to place furniture including outdoor tables and seating on the highway, including a capped application fee of £100 and a 10-working day consultation and determination period.
- Licences to be granted for 12 months or more unless there are good reasons not to, and an expectation that licences granted under these provisions to continue to apply into this summer so that businesses do not have to reapply or be charged a further application fee when they are able to re-open to serve customers outdoors.
- Currently due to expire on 30 September 2021, but subject to Parliamentary approval, this will be extended for a further 12 months,
Freedom to use land for community events and outdoor hospitality
- Continuation of greater flexibility for businesses to hold outdoor events such as summer fairs or motorsports on land without the need for a planning application
- Car-boot sales, or people or businesses such as pubs wishing to set up marquees will also be exempt.
- Such temporary events to be allowed for 56 days until 31 December 2021.
- A new temporary right, extended to March 2022, that allows local authorities, either by themselves or by others on their behalf, to use land to hold a market without having to apply for planning permission.
- Measures to support restaurants, drinking establishments such as pubs and cafes to serve takeaway food when they were otherwise closed due to coronavirus restrictions extended until March 2022.