Councils given emergency powers to support NHS with new field hospitals

'The Barn' at Parc y Scarlets. Credit: Matthew Horwood

Councils are being given new powers to support the NHS and increase hospital capacity as Wales responds to the coronavirus pandemic.

Housing and Local Government Minister Julie James has introduced emergency permitted development rights, which will allow local authorities to change the use of buildings or erect temporary structures on their land without planning permission.

Photo credit: Matthew Horwood

The new powers mean local authorities can use leisure centres as temporary hospitals if they are needed to prevent or control an emergency.

The Crown already has these rights on its estate.

The Minister said:

“Local authorities in Wales are doing an excellent job of responding to rapidly changing situations and it is vital that we allow them to meet their wide-ranging responsibilities quickly.

“Relaxing the usual planning requirements allows local authorities to take swift action to respond to local need.

“It is of course only right they plan for the emergency but by staying home we can help to avoid these plans becoming a reality.”

Under the permitted rights, any temporary structures must be removed and the land restored to its previous condition (or to an agreed condition) within 12 months of the development starting.

Alternatively, planning permission would have to be sought for any continuing use.

Rhys Gregory
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