Manchester planning bosses have been urged to reject 'inappropriate' later working hours at city centre building sites.

It comes after the government announced construction sites could keep working until 9pm in residential areas as part of a raft of measures intended to get the industry moving again.

Building within commercial and industrial areas could also be permitted ‘round-the-clock’ as the first steps towards easing the coronavirus lockdown get underway.

The council does not currently allow work to continue after 6pm during the week or later 2pm on a Saturday, while Sunday and Bank Holiday working is banned outright.

And there are strict start and finish times at some sites, set as a condition of planning permission.

But housing secretary Robert Jenrick MP has told local authorities they will need ‘ very compelling reasons’ to refuse applications for later working, after declaring his intent to ‘keep Britain building'.

The government says this will make it easier to observe social distancing on sites and take the pressure off public transport by allowing for staggered working hours and save jobs.

However, Coun Angeliki Stogia - the council's executive member for planning, environment and transport - says the new guidance does present some issues.

She said: “ We have some concerns about the potential impact these changes could have and we are currently considering the guidance to understand what local discretionary powers we will have so we can strike the best balance between the needs of our local residents, supporting local jobs and our SMEs, and a safe working environment for construction workers."

But city centre councillors have made clear they oppose ‘any relaxation of the rules’ warning of a negative impact on the ‘liveability’ of the city centre - currently home to 30,000 people.

In a letter to Coun Stogia they say ‘while extended or 24 hour working might be appropriate in exclusively commercial and industrial areas, it is not appropriate in our city centre, particularly given the high density of current build projects’.

They also raise concerns over the impact on the thousands now home working - noting there have been numerous reports of construction noise affecting people’s ability to do their jobs.

“At a time when many residents are spending their entire time at home in the city centre, the impact on residents’ health and well-being from extended construction hours would be highly detrimental, particularly in terms of air quality and noise pollution,” the letter adds.

The six councillors describe the Secretary of State's move as an ‘unwarranted attempt by Tory minister to interfere in our city’ warning it would ‘place more burdens on already overstretched council staff’ and ‘negatively and disproportionately affect the people’ they represent.

And, while acknowledging the importance of construction industry jobs and Manchester’s continued growth, they say that employers have a duty to prioritise workers’ wellbeing.

The letter closes by adding: “We do not think this is achieved by damaging the liveability of our city. We ask therefore that the council does not vary construction times within the city centre.”

The six signatories to the letter are Piccadilly ward councillors Jon-Connor Lyons, Adele Douglas and Sam Wheeler together with Deansgate ward councillors Marcus Johns, Joan Davies and William Jeavons.