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Gloucestershire Business News

Cheltenham fast tracking applications for business changes

Cheltenham Borough Council is to become one of the first local authorities to accelerate applications for temporary changes to use in a bid to help businesses recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The move for changes to public areas and private land are designed to make it easier for businesses to accommodate more physical space for social distancing purposes, such as placing tables and chairs on a footpath or public square.

Council leader Councillor Steve Jordan 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 been working with key stakeholders to address some of the challenges 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 includes further information for businesses about relaxing certain policy measures and restrictions.

Councillor Andrew McKinlay, cabinet member for development and safety, said: "The council's cabinet 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 parks and gardens need planning permission.

The council will enable existing businesses and organisations to create temporary buildings or structures on their land without the need for planning permission - initially up to December 1 - but with a brief assessment by council officers.

Head of planning David Oakhill said: "While 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."

Punchline says: "This is a really good news and goes to show how committed Cheltenham Borough Councils are to helping businesses recover from the pandemic - we hope the county's other council follow suit as soon as possible."

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