Planning permission deadlines will be extended to save construction projects’ permissions from expiring.
The government will also be introducing flexible working hours on construction sites to support social distancing, helping people to return to work safely.
There are new changes to speed up the pace of the planning appeal process.
Planning permission deadlines will be extended, planning appeals will be sped up and builders will be allowed more flexible working hours following agreement with their local council.
Planning permission usually expires after three years if work has not started onsite.
Sites with consent that have an expiry date between the start of lockdown and the end of this year will now see their consent extended to April 1, 2021.
This will prevent work that has been temporarily disrupted by the pandemic from stopping altogether.
The government estimates that by the end of this month alone, more than 400 residential permissions providing more than 24,000 new homes would have expired.
The new measures will help these developments and more resume as the economy recovers.
New measures will also permanently grant the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) the ability to use more than one procedure - written representations, hearings and inquiries - at the same time when dealing with a planning appeal, enabling appeals to happen much faster.
Last year a pilot programme tested this approach and implemented recommendations of the Rosewell Review, which more than halved the time taken for appeal inquiries, from 47 weeks to 23 weeks.
This will also help builders to agree more flexible construction site working hours with their local council for a temporary period.
This will make it easier to follow public health guidance onsite and by staggering builders’ arrival times, public transport will be less busy, and the risk of infection will be reduced.