Cheltenham fast tracks applications for temporary changes to public space use

Cheltenham Town Centre

Cheltenham Borough Council is to accelerate applications for temporary changes to the use of public areas and private land. This will 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.’’

As a result of Covid-19, the council has been working with key stakeholders to address and ease some of the challenges that the pandemic has had on businesses and organisations in the town and has published a draft recovery strategy.

A business, licensing and night-time economy recovery plan has been published (www.cheltenham.gov.uk/licensed-premises-recovery) and sets out the steps the council is taking to provide support for businesses in Cheltenham.

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.

Councillor Andrew McKinlay, cabinet member for development and safety, said: “The council’s cabinet recently approved a recovery plan for Cheltenham and we are committed to supporting businesses as they recover from trading restrictions and business closures.

“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.”

In most circumstances, new buildings on private land and Cheltenham’s award-winning parks and gardens (where businesses already operate from these spaces) need planning permission. The council 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, added: “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.