Sites with planning permission that have an expiry date between the start of lockdown and the end of 2020 will see their consent extended to 1 April 2021, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, has announced.
The Ministry said this would prevent work that has been temporarily disrupted by the pandemic from stopping altogether.
According to government estimates, more than 400 residential permissions providing more than 24,000 new homes would have expired by the end of this month alone.
The Planning Inspectorate will also be granted permanently the ability to use more than one procedure - written representations, hearings and inquiries - at the same time when dealing with a planning appeal.
The MHCLG said this would enable appeals to happen “much faster”.
Last year a pilot programme tested this approach and implemented recommendations of the Rosewell Review, which more than halved the time taken for appeal inquiries, from 47 weeks to 23 weeks, the Ministry claimed.
Builders will meanwhile be allowed to agree more flexible construction site working hours with their local council for a temporary period.
“This will make it easier to follow public health guidance onsite and by staggering builders’ arrival times, public transport will be less busy and the risk of infection will be reduced,” the Ministry suggested.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Building the homes the country needs is central to the mission of this government and is an important part of our plans to recover from the impact of the coronavirus.
“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.”