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Builders could work longer hours to halt coronavirus spread as ministers unveil construction sector rescue plan

The Government is also extending planning permission deadlines to avoid sites grinding to a halt. (PA)

2 min read

Construction sites could see longer working hours to help them maintain social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, ministers have said.

Under a new Government plan to “get Britain building”, sites will be able to ask local councils to let them work longer days for a temporary period.

And deadlines for planning permission will be drastically extended to prevent work disrupted by the pandemic from grinding to a halt completely.

Under the plan, which the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is promising to bring forward this week, builders will be able to request longer opening hours so that they can stagger arrival times on site and avoid peaks in public transport use in a bid to limit the spread of Covid-19.

The planning shake-up will meanwhile see sites where permission to build expires between the start of lockdown and the end of this year granted until 1 April 2021 to get working.

The Government estimates that more than 400 residential sites covering 24,000 new homes are currently at risk of their planning permission expiring, with the changes meaning developers will not have to ask for new permission to continue on a site.

Launching the package, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said building new homes formed an “important part of our plans to recover from the impact of the Coronavirus”.

He added: “New laws will enable us to speed up the pace of planning appeals and save hundreds of construction sites from being cancelled before they have a chance to get spades in the ground, helping to protect hundreds of thousands of jobs and create many others.

“Taken together, these measures will help to keep workers safe and our economy moving as we work together to bounce back from the pandemic.” 

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