Scottish government to relax rules on outdoor seating from end of March

Out-Law News | 01 Mar 2023 | 9:21 am | 1 min. read

The Scottish government is expected to relax restrictions on outdoor seating from the end of March, in a move welcomed by the hospitality sector.

The announcement, which followed an industry-wide consultation, will allow restaurants and bars to put tables and chairs on the pavement outside their premises without the need to obtain planning permission first. Audrey Ferrie of Pinsent Masons said the rule change would help Scotland’s hospitality sector recover after the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Between lockdowns, staff shortages and the cost-of-living crisis, the industry has been among the hardest hit in recent years, and many small business owners have struggled to survive. Bars and restaurants that were allowed to create outdoor seating areas during the pandemic were frustrated to have to remove them again when indoor eating and drinking rules returned to normal,” she said.

The proposed relaxation of planning rules, expected to be approved by MSPs in the coming weeks, will also make it easier to convert certain properties into cafes or restaurants. Local authorities will, however, retain the power to prevent any obstructions which create accessibility issues. Ferrie said this more flexible approach would provide a boost to the hospitality industry and to urban areas generally.

Christine Pirie of Pinsent Masons said: “These changes are a positive step for the hospitality industry. But they come at a time when Scottish ministers are under fire for not providing business rates relief for bars, restaurants and hotels in the latest budget. As trade bodies have warned, this could wipe out more businesses, and the government needs to provide more meaningful assistance.”

We are processing your request. \n Thank you for your patience. An error occurred. This could be due to inactivity on the page - please try again.