West Berkshire Council

Opening of West Berkshire Town Centres

Town centres across the district will be opening on 12 April

Maintaining a strong local economy is one of our main priorities and we know that the past year has taken its toll on the district's businesses. We want to ensure that we are doing all we can to ease this burden where possible. In recent months, our officers have distributed almost £40m in grant funding to eligible businesses as well as administering business rate relief to eligible businesses.

We are looking forward to welcoming shoppers back to our local high streets and have put into place a number of measures to support this including:

  • Painted lines in public areas to help shoppers with maintaining social distancing
  • Additional signage reminding people of social distancing restrictions
  • A £138,000 'Welcome Back Fund' for events and initiatives to ensure the successful re-opening of high street
  • Access to twice-weekly rapid Covid testing for small business employees
  • The offer of site visits from Public Protection Partnership colleagues for advice on Covid-secure trading
  • Regular sector-based advice webinars for each phase of the unlocking
  • One year complimentary extension to pavement licences so that hospitality businesses can make use of al fresco dining areas
  • Distribution of 'Restart' grants to eligible businesses
  • Printable resources including guidance posters for display in premises
  • Implementation of further business rate relief, as announced in the Government's Budget

Hospitality businesses

We recognise that hospitality businesses have been particularly impacted by Covid-19 and we want to reassure them that we will be as flexible as we can in order to make their re-opening a success. Our dedicated team of officers is here to support you if you need help or advice to re-open safely.

Better use of outdoor space

Our Environment Team is working with our Development and Planning Team to quickly consider requests from hospitality businesses for additional outdoor seating so that they can continue to serve customers whilst adhering to social distancing guidance. Read more and apply for a licence here.

Using vacant premises

Our Development and Planning Service determines applications for change of use of buildings. These changes require a full planning application and as the Local Planning Authority, we must ensure that any proposals to change the use class of a building are appropriate. Given the impact of Covid-19, we are offering to fast track these applications for those businesses who would struggle to re-open without using additional space or premises. Furthermore, our service will offer free, non-binding informal pre-application advice to businesses to simplify this process.

Advice for businesses

Our Economic Development Team can refer businesses to advice on a wealth of topics, including grants, access to finance, HR and marketing. They will also be consulting with businesses as a local economic recovery plan is developed. Email katharine.makant@westberks.gov.uk for more information.

Alcohol and food licensing

The Public Protection Partnership offers support on environmental health, licensing and trading standards issues as well as specific advice on operating a business safely during the Covid-19 global pandemic.

If you are considering making further changes to how your business operates, including using additional premises or floor space, please contact our officers at the addresses below to discuss whether this has any licensing implications and they will be happy to help.

Environmental Health: ehadvice@westberks.gov.uk

Licensing: licensing@westberks.gov.uk

Trading Standards: tsadvice@westberks.gov.uk