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Permitted development rights for creation of medical facilities comes into effect

Words: Laura Edgar
NHS Nightingale / Shutterstock_1686533116

Emergency legislation that allows councils and health providers in England to establish facilities to support the fight against the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak came into force today (9 April).

The temporary permitted development right will come to an end on 31 December 2020.

Explanatory notes issued alongside The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Coronavirus) (England) (Amendment) Order 2020 states that the right allows “local authorities and health service bodies to carry out development, both works and change of use, of facilities required in undertaking their roles to respond to the spread of coronavirus, without a requirement to submit a planning application”.

Buildings that could be changed include conference facilities, such as London’s ExCel, which has already been transformed into NHS Nightingale, and university buildings. Buildings can be temporarily erected on land that is owned or leased by health service bodies or local authorities, or on their behalf to “provide health facilities such as temporary hospitals, coroner facilities, mortuaries and testing units”.

The explanatory note says that the order also “allows the change of use of existing buildings and land, the erection of temporary buildings or structures for associated storage facilities, distribution centres for food and other commodities, and the provision of plant, machinery and hard surfaces for parking and storage”. 

Under the right, existing buildings such as hotels can be used to provide temporary accommodation for staff and volunteers in the health sector, as well as those who may be homeless.

Work can be undertaken across England, including in conservation areas, national parks, the Broads and to a listed building. However, it “does not remove the need for listed building consent should that be considered necessary”.

The explanatory notes states that “for the avoidance of doubt, after the relevant period, premises or land would revert to its original use”. Should the facilities be required beyond the end of this year, a planning application would need to be submitted.

As well as local authorities, the order covers a number of health bodies, including NHS trusts, the National Health Service Commissioning Board, the Health Research Authority and the Human Tissue Authority.

Last week, The Planner reported that Welsh housing minister Julie James had introduced emergency temporary permitted development rights to allow local authorities to change the use of buildings without planning permission during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Welsh Government wants local authorities to be able to use leisure centres as temporary hospitals if needed, “to prevent or control an emergency”.

The amendment and explanatory note can be found here.

Image credit | Shutterstock