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Build Build Build - Extending Working Hours

You can now apply to the local planning authority to amend conditions or documents approved under conditions specifying the times during which construction activities may be carried out. The changes brought in by the Business and Planning Act 2020 apply to permissions granted in England only.  

The aim is to support safe construction working in line with guidance on social distancing on construction sites and other outdoor work, which may require changes to working practices including staggered starts and finishes.

The application:

  • must be made by a person with an interest in the land or their agent
  • can seek a change to allow construction activities to be carried out for a longer period on a particular day and/or for the whole or part of a day that they would not otherwise be allowed to be carried out
  • must be submitted electronically, identify the permission and condition or approved document, specify the date of sending, the existing times during which construction activities can be carried out, the proposed modifications and the period during which modifications are proposed to take effect.

Guidance suggests that applications should provide a short justification on why extended hours are necessary, a list of the primary construction activities to take place in the extended hours including plant and equipment to be used and a proportionate assessment of the likely impact on sensitive uses near the site if relevant. Applicants are encouraged to provide a mitigation plan explaining how they will liaise with neighbours and manage any effects.

The relevant period during which the extended hours will apply must begin not earlier than 14 days (but excluding Bank Holidays) from the day on which the application is sent to the LPA and end on or before 1 April 2021.

The LPA can modify the condition or approved document as requested or refuse the application. With the applicant’s written agreement, it can determine alternative construction hours and their start and end date – this facilitates some negotiation. The LPA cannot remove permission to carry out construction activities during currently permitted hours.

Guidance states that authorities should not refuse applications to extend working hours until 9pm Monday to Saturday without very compelling reasons. In some cases, such as where there are no residential properties, longer working houses including 24-hour working may be justified. It gives examples of circumstances in which the authority may consider a refusal.

If the LPA does not give notice within 14 days (excluding Bank Holidays), then the application is deemed approved. There is a right of appeal. 

The procedure does not apply to permissions relating to works to an existing dwelling house (not including flats) or mining operations. The modifications expire on 1 April 2021, but the Secretary of State has power to substitute a later date through regulations if he considers it reasonable to do so due to the coronavirus.

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