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Extended delivery times for food stores

Council position on extended delivery times

The coronavirus epidemic has had a major impact in many areas of commercial activity that is essential for the smooth running of ensuring that food and other supplies are kept at sustainable levels.

The government has issued a Ministerial Communication that indicated that planning authorities should be flexible and temporally remove any planning restrictions on delivery times. The government has made clear that it expects the adoption of best practice to mitigate any adverse impact on residents.  It is not known how long the epidemic will last and therefore the relaxation could be for a considerable period – the government has said that it will withdraw it when the immediate urgency has subsided.

The councils involvement will depend on the nature of the application.  If the application is for a relaxation of planning conditions they will liaise with the Environmental Protection Team.  If there are no planning conditions the Environmental Protection Team (EPT) will deal with the matter.

If there are planning conditions restricting the delivery times we would expect that the store would apply to the Planning Authority to notify them of intention to have deliveries outside planning conditions. The Planning Authority will advise the Environmental Protection Team and seek their input with the applicant as they enforce other statutory regulations relating to noise that would be as relevant as planning conditions.

If a store notifies the council or a complainant contacts the Environmental Protection Team about deliveries outside normal hours the Environmental Protection Team will deal with the issue.  We will expect that any applicant for extension of delivery times will provide the council with appropriate documents to justify the need for the extensions and to develop a Noise Management Plan (NMP) to ensure that any impact on residents is minimised.

We will expect that a NMP will contain information about:

  • The need for deliveries outside standard times so that only essential late night deliveries take place and that wherever possible deliveries are within standard times.
  • The measures to be taken to minimise impact on residents.  There has been a considerable amount of work relating to quiet deliveries such as “Transport for London Code of Practice for quieter deliveries”.
  • Communication with residents – we would expect a letter to local residents advising them of the situation and what measures have been taken to mitigate noise and other disturbances.  There should be a contact number to contact if things go wrong so that the supervisor can immediately investigate and deal with the issue.
  • Staff training to ensure that deliveries are as quiet as possible.
  • Access does not cause issues with HGVs queuing on the road or waiting to be let on site.
  • Ensuring that vehicles turn off engines and hook up to electric sockets for refrigeration.
  • Having equipment that is suitable for quiet deliveries such as specialist roll cages, mats and screening.
  • Supervision to ensure that best practice procedures are adhered to and that any issues are identified and dealt with quickly and efficiently.

The Environmental Protection Team will contact the store and will ensure that they have appropriate NMP and procedures.  Advice will be given as to what needs to be done to minimise impact on residents. The Environmental Protection Team have powers under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to serve notice prohibiting noise nuisance and will utilise this power if companies are not utilising best practical means and are causing a nuisance.  We will work with both stores and with residents to ensure a balanced approach that will enable necessary deliveries outside standard times if this is appropriate.

Contact details

For planning condition relaxation applications contact:

Planning Technical Team

Telephone: 01892 554604


For Environmental Health restriction relaxation applications contact:

Environmental Health Admin Team

Telephone: 01892 602450


"I wish to update the House on the urgent matter of enabling retailers of food, sanitary and other essential items to increase the frequency of deliveries to their stores to support the response to Covid-19.

Many supermarkets, food retailers and distribution centres in England are subject to controls which restrict the time and number of deliveries from lorries and other delivery vehicles, particularly at night. These include planning conditions, which are necessary to making the development acceptable to local residents who might otherwise suffer from traffic, noise and other local amenity issues as a result of these deliveries.

Given the exceptional challenges facing the UK from the coronavirus however, it is vital that deliveries of food, sanitary and other essential products over the coming weeks can be made as quickly and safely as possible, minimising disruption to the supply chains on which our communities depend. The likely pressures on driver capacity mean additional flexibility is needed so that retailers can accept deliveries throughout the day and night where necessary.

The National Planning Policy Framework already emphasises that planning enforcement is a discretionary activity, and local planning authorities should act proportionately in responding to suspected breaches of planning control.

The purpose of this Written Ministerial Statement, which comes into effect immediately, is to make clear that as a matter of urgency local planning authorities should take a positive approach to their engagement with food retailers and distributors, as well as the freight industry, to ensure planning controls are not a barrier to food delivery over the period of disruption caused by the coronavirus.

Given the current situation local planning authorities should not seek to undertake planning enforcement action which would result in unnecessarily restricting deliveries of food and other essential deliveries during this period, having regard to their legal obligations.

The Government recognises that the increased frequency of deliveries, particularly at night, could have a temporary impact on local residents. However, this needs to be balanced by the significant public interest in ensuring local residents have continued access to food, sanitary and other essential goods in their local shops. The retail and logistics sectors have also worked to minimise impacts on residents over recent years through Quiet Deliveries and the Government expects that such good practice continues. The Government will review the need for the flexibility outlined in this statement after the pressure from the coronavirus has reduced, and it is the intention to withdraw it once the immediate urgency has subsided.

This Written Ministerial Statement only covers England. We are working closely with the devolved administrations to consider similar arrangements."  This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS154.