Sites can stay open until 9pm and possibly all night

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick says councils should not stand in the way of late night working.

The government has told local authorities not to stand in the way of sites that want to continue to work until nine at night. It is even considering allowing 24-hour working. 

The announcement came yesterday from Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, who was the director of a property company prior to going into politics.

Allowing sites to continue working until 9pm is to make it easier to have fewer people on site at a time in order to maintain a 2m distance from each other as much as possible. The extra hours should compensate for the reduction in productivity expected to result from the distancing.

The government has also suggesting some projects could switch to 24-hour working in order to make up for time lost during the coronavirus lockdown and to help workers follow social distancing protocols.

Housing Secretary Jenrick has issued a Ministerial Statement instructing local authorities to permit requests to extend site opening hours – usually controlled by planning permissions – unless there are “very compelling reasons” to reject them. 

One such compelling reason might be if they are close to residential properties whose occupants would be disturbed by late-night working.

He also said it was time the planning system made better use of digital technology to operate remotely and efficiently during this pandemic.

"I am determined that the planning inspectorate be at the forefront of this work – I welcome the inspectorate now undertaking its first ever virtual hearings," he said.