Dear all
As the scale of the Coronavirus outbreak builds, so does its impact on our economy. We are critically aware of the difficulties faced by so many tourism businesses across Exmoor right now, given the need for people to stay home and stay safe.

We are making regular updates to our Coronavirus Business Support page whilst general statements from the National Park Authority regarding the situation and local response are being posted regularly here .

Rate Relief
District Councils are in he process of applying the rate relief for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure businesses and there is no need for you to take action at this stage. The government guidance detailing eligibility can be found here (PDF) and you can find up to date information from Somerset West and Taunton Council here and North Devon Council here.

Grants for small businesses and retail, hospitality and leisure businesses
The District Councils are also responsible for distributing the cash grants provided by central government to eligible businesses - defined as those either receiving Small Business or Rural Rate Relief (SBRR / RRR) and / or retail, hospitality or leisure businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000. The grants are worth £10,000 each or £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value over £15,000 (but below £15,000).
  • Somerset West and Taunton businesses should apply here.
  • North Devon businesses are advised to await further guidance- details here.
The guidance for those administering the schemes which detail elegibilityand exclusions can be read here (PDF).

Takeaway services
As you will be aware from previous briefings the Government have announced that planning rules are to be changed with regards to pubs and restaurants etc being able to provide a take away service. The measures have now been introduced and apply to hot food and drinks. Serving of alcoholic drinks will continue to be subject to existing licensing laws. Permitted development rights have been introduced to allow restaurants and cafes, drinking establishments and drinking establishments with expanded food provision to operate on a temporary basis for the provision of takeaway food. This means that such use can take place as “permitted development” without the need to gain specific planning permission from the local planning authority.

There are conditions that must be met to benefit from these permitted development rights, including that the developer must notify the local planning authority if the building and any land within its curtilage is being used, or will be used, for the provision of takeaway food at any time during the “relevant period”. The permitted temporary change does not affect the use class of the main building before the takeaway use takes place and, at the end of the relevant temporary period, or earlier if the takeaway use ceases before, the building shall revert to its lawful use – i.e. the takeaway food use should cease, unless specific planning permission is otherwise obtained from the local planning authority.

For the purposes of these permitted development rights the “relevant period” ends 23rd March 2021 and the takeaway food use should cease after that date, unless specific planning permission has been granted.

Businesses wishing to diversify in this way are required to inform the Local Planning Authority when the new use begins. Exmoor National Park Authority is the Local Planning Authority for those of you based within the National Park boundary and we recommend you notify us via email, given the majority of staff are remote working in line with Government advice. You can email us at stating your intentions or if you have any queries regarding this temporary change in planning rules. For those outside the National Park boundary you should approach your Planning Authority at the relevant District Council.

Further advice for food and drink providers during Covid-19 from the Government can be found here (PDF).

Other support
Details of the various business support measures announced by Government can be found here. These include the staff retention scheme offering 80% of wages to staff furloughed, and a similar scheme for the self employed, loans and sick pay rebates amongst others.

You can also contact the Heart of the South West Growth Hub if you have any queries or need further advice at this time. Heart of the South West Growth Hub or call 03456 047 047

Share your views
Please do keep in touch with us and let us know how things are going. We are in regular contact with central Government through the family of National Parks, the Heart of the South West Economic Resilience Opportunities Group and bodies such as the Tourism Alliance.

Planning for recovery
ENPA will be facilitating the development of what we hope will be a jointly owned Exmoor Tourism Recovery Plan in partnership with bodies such as Visit Exmoor and local tourism associations.

It will be more important than ever that we combine our weight, whilst still giving freedom for individual towns / villages to respond to their immediate priorities. At this stage it will be a live document as we're in a very fluid moment with the situation changing daily. This should however give us a strong starting point once we can plan for recovery with more certainty. We know from our experience with the likes of Foot and Mouth that when we pull together we can create a lasting legacy to build the sector back up.

Further details will follow shortly but in the meantime if you have ideas or suggestions to feed in then please email Katrina Munro .

Visit Exmoor are promoting 'Visit Exmoor. Later.' as the foundation to their current work. They are developing a #VirtualExmoor strategy to keep brand awareness of Exmoor alive in this time with inspirational and authentic digital content from those that live and work on the moor. ENPA will be joining forces to support this and supporting Visit Exmoor in developing a #ComeVisit campaign to boost domestic tourism in the aftermath.

We will also be supporting the VisitBritain's  #lovegreatbritain campaign.  

With all best wishes at this difficult time

Dan James
Sustainable Economy Manager