Published on 4th March 2022

Imperial garden bar temporary structure

Planning permission now required after September 2022.

To support local businesses proactively through Covid-19, the council has agreed a further relaxation of temporary structure planning rules to September 2022, following on from an initial relaxation from June 2020 that was subsequently extended in May 2021 to the end of the year.    

The pandemic presented many challenges for Cheltenham’s businesses and institutions to operate safely, and more physical space for social distancing was identified by them as being essential.

The council’s planning team was awarded a Royal Town Planning Institute ‘Planning Heroes in a Pandemic’ award in 2021 for their swift and creative approach to relax planning permission for temporary structures – such as portable cabins or covered seating areas - to help existing businesses to run safely with the additional space required to support covid-19 guidelines. These temporary changes to planning regulations have benefitted cafés, restaurants, pubs, cultural institutions such as Central Cross café, Meadow café, The Cheltenham Trust and the NHS Cheltenham hospital.

Cllr Martin Horwood, member for customer and regulatory services, said: “I’m pleased to let businesses and our communities know we fully support this extension which sees planning controls relaxed for temporary structures and buildings until this September and I hope this approach will give some additional certainty to businesses for their continued recovery.

“We’re fully committed to the recovery process and are engaging with organisations who want to retain structures beyond September. Planning applications will be judged on their merits taking into account all interested views and we will engage with businesses who may not yet have acceptable designs and work with them to find solutions.

“I’m also delighted to champion our planning team’s creative and fast paced approach to temporarily relaxing planning controls which saw them awarded RTPI’s ‘Planning Heroes in a Pandemic’ award. They acted early and swiftly to temporarily relax planning controls and also took a pragmatic and proportionate approach to enforcement.”

Diane Savory OBE, chair of the Cheltenham Economic Task Force, continued: “Through our work across the Task Force we know how hard hit some businesses have been. The relaxations, have for some, provided a lifeline to operate their businesses successfully whilst at the same time embedding the café culture, allowing residents and visitors to soak up the ambience of our town. Despite Covid, interventions such as these have brought vibrancy to our town centre, we now need to build on this moving forward.”

For more information on planning guidance for temporary planning structures and how to apply, visit the council’s website.  

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