Update on planning requirements

Dorset Council has introduced a free fast-track planning advice service to help businesses make changes to allow them to open under Covid-19 restrictions. Some changes may require planning permission, such as changes to the use of outdoor space or providing temporary structures.

Businesses need to provide certain information before proposals are assessed:

  • Business name and address with contact details of a named individual
  • A site location plan
  • A location plan including the location of any proposed temporary structure (to also show details of the size of such structures), or any outside area that you are planning to use differently
  • A description of any proposed structure, or a description of the changes you are proposing (e.g. increased use of outside space)
  • A description of how you plan to make any proposed structure safe e.g. wind loading, flame retardancy, anchorage / stability etc
  • Details of when any changes started, or when you plan them to start (e.g. when any structure was erected or when do you plan to erect it)
  • Photos of the site including any area where a temporary structure will be located, and,
  • A brief overview of what any structure or outside area will be used for (including the hours it will be used for) and why the structure is required (related to Covid-19).

The council aims to respond to requests within 10 working days.

It will consider whether planning permission would technically be required, and, if so, whether there are likely to be any significant impacts on:

  • Amenity / noise
  • Highway safety issues
  • Hindrance to service routes for other commercial premises

Photo by Iamngakan eka from Pexels

The assessment will take account of any relevant existing or historic planning applications or enforcement cases affecting the site. This approach to planning enforcement will apply for six months, and will be reviewed in December 2020.

This free service only applies to temporary changes needed to help businesses get up and running during the current Covid-19 recovery period.

To access the free fast-track planning advice service submit the information listed above by email to with ‘request for free advice’ in the subject line.

Meeting other requirements

The fast-track planning advice service only covers planning requirements. There are other matters businesses may also need to consider, including:

Street café (sitting out) licences

The Council has set up a new application process for businesses that want to expand their premises on to the highway at this time. Find out more

Building regulations

Temporary structures may require building regulations approval. As part of its advice, it will confirm whether buildings regulations approval is required, and it will supply details of how to apply where this is needed. Find out more information about buildings regulations requirements.

Alcohol and entertainment licences

Businesses, organisations and individuals who want to sell or supply alcohol must have a licence, and they must make sure any additional public realm space is adequately licensed for the sale of alcohol. In some circumstances, an entertainment license will be required. The council’s planning advice service does not cover licensing requirements. Find Information on alcohol and entertainment licences.

Risk assessments

The responsibility to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment in line with HSE guidance remains with individual businesses to ensure they can trade safely and comply with the Government’s safe working and social distancing guidelines. Access HSE guidance. A new structure creates new risks from both its form and function and these must be addressed. If the structure is large or specially designed it may be a Temporary Demountable Structure (TDS).