Outdoor seating rules need to be permanently relaxed


TRADE group UK Hospitality Scotland has called on the Scottish Government to permanently relax planning restrictions on outdoor seating, after the UK Government signalled it intends to do so in England.

Planning laws around pavement and outdoor seating have been temporarily relaxed during the pandemic – extending the time businesses could install seating or erect temporary structures in outdoor areas before being required to apply for planning permission – but the current ‘grace period’ is due to expire in September.

The UK Government announced yesterday (15th July) that its own planning rules around outdoor areas will continue to be relaxed for the next 12 months, “with an intention to make this permanent”.

Now Leon Thompson, executive director of UK Hospitality Scotland, has called on Holyrood to adopt a similar approach north of the border.

“Many businesses have invested in outdoor seating and the imaginative approaches demonstrated by businesses should be encouraged and supported, with planning relaxed or streamlined indefinitely,” said Thompson.

“Outdoor areas also provide additional capacity for businesses that need to be given increased opportunities to trade as profitably as possible.

“Outside seating is likely to remain popular with customers even during inclement weather – particularly where areas are partially covered and offer reasonable protection against the elements.

“Relaxation of the planning restrictions showed real pragmatism and responsiveness from the Scottish Government and was applauded by businesses at the time. Let’s keep supporting our hospitality businesses as they seek to recover from 16 months of closure and restricted opening.

“Hospitality is central to the economic health and recovery of the economy and is already bringing vibrancy back to communities and high streets across the country.”