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Last edited 23 Jun 2020
Coronavirus recovery plan for construction updated
On 22 June 2020, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP announced measures to help the home construction industry boost the building process and return to work safely. Initiatives will include an extension to planning permission deadlines, an acceleration of planning appeals and an adaptation of working hours (based on permission from local councils) to provide greater flexibility for construction site operations.
Under typical conditions, planning permission expires if work onsite has not started within three years. The revised guidelines will allow approved planning permissions that were set to expire between 23 March 2020 (when lockdown was officially announced) and 31 December 2020 an extension until 1 April 2021.
The objective of this measure is to avoid work from being entirely halted. It is estimated that by 30 June 2020, work on more than 24,000 new homes would have been affected by more than 400 expiring planning permissions.
 Appeals process
The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) will be permitted to expedite planning appeals by using written representations, hearings and enquiries - simultaneously. This move should allow appeals to proceed faster.
A pilot in 2019 tested this initiative and incorporated suggestions from the Rosewell Review. Through this process, the duration of an appeal inquiry was cut by more than half - from 47 weeks to 23 weeks.
Builders will be able to approach local councils to request flexible hours of operation on construction sites. This will allow workers to stagger arrival times and decrease travel during peak hours on public transport in accordance with social distancing recommendations.
 Other initiatives
- Introducing more than £330 billion of loans and guarantees to support continuous operations.
- Deferring self-assessment payments until 2021.
- Reopening the housing market in a manner that supports estate agents, conveyancers, removals firms and the wider construction and property industry to return to work under social distancing guidelines.
- Launching a Charter with the Home Builders Federation so that construction sites can reopen in line with health and safety requirements.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said, “Building the homes the country needs is central to the mission of this government and is an important part of our plans to recover from the impact of the coronavirus. New laws will enable us to speed up the pace of planning appeals and save hundreds of construction sites from being cancelled before they have a chance to get spades in the ground, helping to protect hundreds of thousands of jobs and create many others.Taken together, these measures will help to keep workers safe and our economy moving as we work together to bounce back from the pandemic.”
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