‘Grace period’ for outdoor areas ends in September

Operators advised to apply for consent soon

OPERATORS who took advantage of a ‘relaxation’ in planning and building rules for outdoor areas throughout the pandemic are being advised to apply for consent soon ahead of the ‘grace period’ ending in September.

The Scottish Government introduced measures last summer to extend the period of time a business could install seating or erect temporary structures in outdoor areas – for example, in a pub car park or beer garden – before being required to apply for planning permission. It wrote to all local authorities asking building standards teams to relax planning controls and not to take enforcement action “against acceptable planning breaches that will allow for businesses to operate and for some normality to return to life within our communities”.

The measures were extended last October, and again in March of this year until 30th September.

Licensing lawyer Janet Hood advised operators wishing to continue trading these areas to apply for consent now.

“If you have been operating external areas or other aspects of your business without planning consent thanks to the benefits provided by the Scottish Government’s chief planner’s guidance to local government suggesting no unnecessary enforcement, it is time to consider making application for planning permission for use of that part of your business premises which does not benefit from planning consent,” she said.

“The chief planner’s guidance to local government to refrain, where possible, from enforcement action runs out at the end of September and planning departments will likely be swamped with applications – speak to your architect soon.”