External seating plans rejected despite regeneration
By Jonathan Watt
OPERATORS on Glasgow’s regenerated Sauchiehall Street have hit out at the city council after being unable to secure permission for outdoor seating.
The street has been significantly disrupted over the last 18 months by two major fires, resulting in large sections being closed and causing a serious decline in footfall.
This was compounded by roadworks due to the council’s Sauchiehall Street Avenue project, which was designed to “transform” the street and promote it as a vibrant district for businesses.
Michael Bergson, owner of Variety Bar, told SLTN he has not received a response for his application for 12 outside seats, made in May.
“It seems a terrible shame that our pavement has been expanded outside and we can’t use it,” he said.
“We are the latest in the line of Variety Bar owners. It’s a small business which has been in danger of closing down and is a true Glasgow institution – 12 additional seats outside would make a huge difference to the business.”
Logan Stewart, general manager of Broadcast Glasgow, which had an application for outdoor seating rejected, said: “We are concerned that recent developments appear to form a narrative of Glasgow City Council implementing expensive schemes which have been detrimental to businesses.
“It is concerning that a much-touted regeneration of the Sauchiehall Street area appears to have neglected the busy Charing Cross end of the street, both in terms of less visible improvements, and now the difficulty businesses are having in utilising the changes to the street that were ostensibly put there for the very use they are now being rejected for.”
Nicola Walker, licensee of Driftwood, also criticised the handling of outdoor seating applications, saying she was told by the council only venues with a food offer would now be granted permission.
She said: “It would have been nice if these stipulations had been told to people before the work started or before some people had made their applications – this was the first I’ve heard about these new rules.
“I think after over a year of major disruption, noticeable loss of business due to the state of the road and no help, such as rates relief, at all that we should now be reaping some sort of benefit. However, this is not the case at all and all they have succeeded in doing is implementing new restrictions which make it even harder to run our business.”
A Glasgow City Council spokesman said the current policy “does not permit external seating areas for public houses/entertainment venues” which are close to residential properties.
He added: “The western section of Sauchiehall Street is dominated by food and drink uses and permitting every use to have an external seating area, regardless of the potential anti-social effects of this on residents, would be unfair and make it a less attractive place to live.”