Cheltenham Borough Council is understood to have become one of the first local authorities in the country to accelerate applications for temporary changes to the use of public areas and private land.
The council said this would make it easier for businesses to accommodate more physical space for social distancing purposes, “for example to place tables and chairs on a footpath or public square”.
Cllr Steve Jordan, leader of Cheltenham Borough Council, said: ‘’The council firmly believes that in Cheltenham we have the people, skills and local solutions to deliver a strong recovery. Temporary changes form part of the council’s recovery strategy to help Cheltenham businesses recover as quickly as possible from the current trading restrictions.’’
The council has published a business, licensing and night-time economy recovery plan setting out the steps it is taking to provide support for businesses.
The licensing recovery plan and webpages include further information for businesses about relaxing certain policy measures and restrictions, offering guidance, targeted sign posting, comprehensive FAQ’s alongside dedicated officer support and advice.
Cllr Andrew McKinlay, cabinet member for development and safety, said: “Through this plan, we have relaxed some licensing and planning policies to give businesses greater trading flexibility and freedom to promote public health measures but also remain commercially viable.”
The council also said it will now enable existing businesses and organisations in the town to create temporary buildings or structures on their land without the need for planning permission for a temporary period of time (initially up to the 1st December 2020), following a request from the businesses or organisation and a brief assessment by council officers.
David Oakhill, head of planning at Cheltenham, said: “Whilst temporary buildings or structures will need to be removed in time, we hope this temporary change will help businesses to function in the near term.
“An example of this would be; a light industrial business which may need more office space to accommodate staff and ensure social distancing. They may want to locate a temporary building on hardstanding alongside the industrial unit to accommodate staff who cannot work from home. If the temporary building does not compromise the car parking or operation of the site. In principal, this would be supported.”
This initiative applies to all businesses and organisations in Cheltenham.