Pubs and bars should benefit from street seating changes

People outside at table

TRADE groups The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), UK Hospitality Scotland and the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) have jointly called on the Scottish Government to ensure any easing of outdoor seating rules also covers bars and pubs.

The Scottish Government has been consulting on proposals to give businesses greater flexibility with regard to on-street seating.

However, the proposals only currently apply to restaurants and other ‘class 3’ businesses (ie cafés and snack bars).

In a joint submission to the consultation, the three trade groups called for the measures to be extended to pubs and bars.

“The current exclusion of pubs and bars from the Permitted Development Rights proposal, in our view, is nothing short of discriminatory,” said SLTA managing director, Colin Wilkinson.

“Over the last few years pubs and bars have become restaurants and restaurants have become pubs and bars and in operational terms and service offering there is, in our opinion, little to distinguish from the two. If pubs and bars remain excluded from the PDR for moveable furniture we can only see a raft of applications for change of use to a restaurant to avoid this discriminatory measure.”

Leon Thompson, executive director of UK Hospitality Scotland, said the group has “consistently called for businesses to be able to make greater use of outdoor space and is supportive of the Scottish Government’s proposal to do this”.

“This move will help the hospitality industry as it works towards recovery, with greater ability to welcome more guests at peak times and appeal to a greater number of customers, as many people prefer and enjoy being seated outside,” said Thompson.

“However, it is important that pubs and bars are also included in this proposal, not only restaurants and cafés.

“As well as the support this would give to these licensed premises, it will avoid confusion in deciding what is a pub and what isn’t, with many businesses classified as pubs now involved in selling food.”

And Paul Togneri of the SBPA said including pubs and bars in the changes “should be a no-brainer for the Scottish Government”.

“Since the planning use classes came into effect, the hospitality industry has changed massively,” he said.

“Many pubs and bars provide almost identical services to restaurants and should be able to benefit from the same relaxation being offered to them.”