Planning rules relaxed for food trucks and ‘dark kitchens'
Food trucks and ‘dark kitchens’ are now easier to set up and operate, thanks to new planning rules in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Dark kitchens – also known as virtual kitchens, cloud kitchens, and ghost kitchens – cook meals solely for delivery, rather than eat-in diners.
Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes issued the Environmental Planning and Assessment (COVID-19 Development – Takeaway Food and Beverages) Order 2020 to support the food and beverage industry, which has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Right now, we can’t go out for dinner at our favourite restaurant, or grab a drink with friends at the local pub – and this has been devastating not only for customers, but more importantly, for the businesses themselves and their staff,” Mr Stokes said.
“That’s one of the reasons we’ve made it easier for people to set up and operate a dark kitchen in any existing commercial kitchen, providing they can abide by social distancing rules.
“These businesses could offer additional food delivery options for the increasing number of people working from home, or they could be used to produce greater quantities of meals for people in quarantine, or in medical, health or aged care facilities.”
Finance and Small Business Minister Damien Tudehope said the order also included positive changes for food truck owners.
“During the COVID-19 crisis, food trucks will be now be able to operate on any land, at any time, providing they have the landowner’s consent,” Mr Tudehope said.
“This overrides regular development approval processes for food trucks that specify when and where they can operate.
“These are small but important changes that will provide flexibility during these challenging times.”
The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 was amended on 24 March to enable Mr Stokes to issue orders that override normal planning controls during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the health, safety and welfare of NSW communities.