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Changes in Response to Covid-19

Temporary Changes of Use and Temporary Structures

These provisions allow for an additional temporary use of land. This means that businesses can operate on land for an additional 28 days between 01 July 2020 and 31 December 2020. This provision also allows moveable structures such as tables/chairs and marques to be used. 

These changes came into force on 25 June 2020. This is in addition to the original 28 day provision that was previously permitted. Full details of this legislation can be found here:

This does not include the use of a building or land within the curtilage of a listed building. 

Businesses should be aware that a pavement licence is also required for use of the highway or footway. Further information can be found here:

Government to extend planning permission deadlines

Planning permission usually expires after three years from the date shown on the decision notice if work has not started on site. Sites with consent that have an expiry date between 19 August 2020 (when the legislation came into effect) and the 31 December 2020 are automatically extended to 1 May 2021. This is in response to the Covid-19 pandemic which may have preventing building works from starting as planned. This happens automatically and there is no requirement to gain any additional approval.

In addition, any planning permissions which expired between 23 March 2020 and 19 August 2020 can also be restored with the time limit for starting works being extended to 01 May 2021. However this is subject to the Additional Environmental Approval process below.

Additional Environmental Approval 

There is no fee required for an application for Additional Environmental Approval.

To apply, please email with the following information:

  • The date that the application has been sent.
  • The details of the relevant planning permission that you are seeking to extend and the time limit condition which you wish to be amended (this is usually condition 1 of a planning permission).
  • Any condition(s) or other agreements which relate to environmental mitigation or enhancement measures;
  • Whether the original permission was subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment and/or Habitats Regulation Assessment, or screening for either type of assessment.  If the answer was No then a brief explanation of why they consider it remains the case that neither of these assessments would be needed if an application for planning permission was being made now.

If the original planning permission was subject to one or both of these assessments, or screened for either, applicants should also provide details of:

  • The original assessments or screening and a summary of the key findings
  • Information on any mitigation measures secured to address environmental effects and the progress toward delivering these measures;
  • An environmental report containing a reasoned explanation of why in the applicant’s view there have been no changes to environmental circumstances which would make the original screening or assessment out of date. Any other relevant information which would, in the applicant’s view, support the case that the previous screenings or assessments remain up to date.

If the original planning permission was granted without the need for screening, but the applicant believes that screening might be needed if an application for planning permission was being made now, and that screening would show that no substantive assessment was required, the applicant should provide sufficient information to enable the Planning Officer to undertake the screening within the 28 day period.

The application will then be considered by the Planning Officer and a decision made within 28 days, although the Act allows an additional 21 days extension with prior approval with the applicant. 

Where an application is approved, the decision from the Council will advise the following: 

  • The reasons why the approval was granted.
  • The date the original permission needs to be implemented by. 

Where an application is refused, the LPA will explain the reason(s) for this and there is a right of appeal under Section 78.

The Council has to ensure that all applications are completed before the 31 December 2020.  No applications can be approved or deemed to be granted after that date (except on an appeal lodged on or before that date). This means that applicants should submit applications no later than 2 December 2020.  Where an application is submitted after 2 December 2020, the Local Planning Authority may still determine the application but there will be no deemed grant as there is not enough time for the 28 day period to elapse before the 31 December 2020.

The Government has produced a document with questions and answers relating to this application. Details can be found here:

Support for businesses to re-open and trade safely

Hertfordshire’s Better Business for All partnership has produced guides, checklists and templates as part of a toolkit to support businesses to  complete their Covid19 risk assessment and put new processes and procedures in place to support them to  re-open and trade safely.

Explore the online guidance  and for further advice and support contact your local Environmental Health team (number available on your district/borough council website) or Hertfordshire Trading Standards Business Advice Line: 01707 281401 open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm,

Temporary Change of Use from Pub/Restaurant/Cafe to a Take-away

The measures will apply to hot food and drinks. Serving of alcoholic drinks will continue to be subject to existing licensing laws. Please check that your premises licence allows you to do this and also that you are covered for sales for alcohol to be consumed off the premises. If serving hot food and drink between 23:00hrs and 5:00am you will need a premises licence that permits late night refreshment.

You should comply with food hygiene rules:

The government has introduced a time limited permitted development right to allow the temporary change of use of a pub (A4 - drinking establishment) or a restaurant (A3 – restaurants and cafes) to a hot-food take away for a period of up to 12 months only. But, you must tell the planning team you plan to run as a takeaway before you start the business – see below. The new legislation allows businesses to run in this way until the 23 March 2021. The new use must stop before this date.

If you want to run beyond this date, you must submit a planning application. You must propose to carry on using the premises as a takeaway, well in advance of 23 March 2021.

Unfortunately, if you are not currently operating as a lawful pub, restaurant or café, you cannot use this change.

You must apply for planning permission as usual. As well as this, there may be conditions attached to previous planning permissions. These may either restrict or stop you using these rights.

Temporary Change of Use from a Pub/Restaurant/Office to a Shop selling food or essential items (fresh produce and hygiene products)

You do not need planning permission to change the use of a restaurant (A3 – restaurants and cafes) or a high street office (A2 - professional and financial services) to a shop (A1 – shops).

We are allowing for a limited time a pub (A4 - drinking establishment) to change to a shop selling food or essential items (fresh produce and hygiene items). This temporary relaxation will last until 13th May 2020 or until the government restrictions in The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 have been lifted whichever is sooner.

Any pub, restaurant or high street office who changes to a shop selling food or essential items (fresh produce and hygiene items) will receive a relaxation of the planning rules to change back to their authorised pre-covid19 planning use. The change of use back to the authorised A2 or A3 use should take place by 1st April 2021.

For these relaxations to apply, the premises should notify us (see below) prior to the change of use to a shop.

Telling us about a Temporary Change of Use in response to Covid-19

Businesses are required to tell the local planning authority when the new use begins and ends. Should you wish to operate as a hot-food takeaway or a shop (selling food or essential items) for a limited period please notify us by email to

When reporting via email, please provide the following information:

  • Business Name and Address
  • Key Contact Information for Business Operator including email address and contact number
  • First date Hot Food Takeaway or Shop use began

Please note that you should comply with food hygiene rules.

Your details will be held by the Planning Department for the purposes of ensuring compliance with planning law.

Please see privacy notice. This information may also be shared with the Council’s Licensing Department to ensure compliance with this legislation also. We will confirm acknowledgement of your notification by email. This will advise you of the expiry date for the takeaway operation. You will be contacted again around the time of the expiry date to remind you of the need to end this activity unless an application for a permanent change of use is received.

Other Guidance Toggle accordion

Further guidance for food businesses can be found at:

Details of the food hygiene ratings for businesses can be found at:

The following businesses have registered a change of use with us:

Business Name

Business Address

Bar Azita

Station Road - Harpenden

Bar Meze

8 Adelaide Street

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks

16 Abbey Mill Lane

Portland Arms

Portland Street AL3 4RA

Great Northern

172 London Road

Lower Red Lion

Fishpool Street

The Boot


The Kings Arms/Dylans

7 George Street

The Plough


Per Tutti30 Holywell Hill
The Mermaid98 Hatfield Road
Souvlaki City203 Hatfield Road
LussmansWaxhouse Gate
Six Bells16-18 St Michaels
Pasta Cibo restaurant2 Harding Parade
Thai Rack13 George Street
AYOs2 Beaconsfield Road
White Hart Tap4 Keyfield Terrace
Havin Turkish Kitchen13 High Street
Inn on the ParkVerulamiam Park