Business and Planning Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:21 pm on 29th June 2020.

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Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy 5:21 pm, 29th June 2020

First, these are of course temporary measures. A 90-day rolling review, which I think the hon. Lady is proposing, would undermine the certainty that we are giving businesses in terms of these particular measures. She will know, however, that should the Government wish to extend any of the measures, they will be subject to made affirmative or draft affirmative procedures, so they will come before the House before there is any opportunity to extend them further.

I now return to the issue of trying to get the construction sector moving. In 2018, this sector represented almost 9% of our GDP. Lockdown has had a profound impact on construction sites across the country. We estimate that almost 1,200 unimplemented major residential planning permissions, with capacity to deliver over 60,000 homes, have lapsed or will lapse between the start of lockdown on 23 March and 31 December this year. Therefore, the Bill introduces powers to extend these planning permissions and listed building consents to 1 April 2021. This will be automatic for permissions that have not lapsed at the point that these measures come into force. Lapsed permissions can be reinstated and can benefit from the same extension, but subject to necessary environmental approvals.

We will also make it quicker for developers to apply for longer construction site working hours. This will help to facilitate safe working—for example, by staggering workers’ hours—and to make up for lost progress. Applications will be concluded within 14 days. This measure does not apply to applications from individual householders. Local authorities retain discretion and can refuse applications where there would be an unacceptable impact. Again, this is a temporary measure. Extended hours can only last up until 1 April 2021, unless extended by secondary legislation.