Scottish Planning Shake-Up to Boost Cafe Culture by Aiding Outdoor Dining

Rules for setting up outdoor restaurant and café seating in Scotland will be relaxed under proposals for a radical shake-up of the planning system.

The Scottish government is opening a consultation on changing “permitted development rights”, which would streamline the process for certain types of application.

As part of its Permitted Development Rights review, the Scottish Government is consulting on measures that would save applicants the time and expense of applying for planning permission for some types of development.

Consultation proposals include:
• outdoor restaurant seating could be permitted without a planning application under new proposals to support the hospitality industry
• relaxing the need to seek planning permission for electric vehicle charging infrastructure in car parks or at filling stations
• allowing a wider variety of changes of use for premises in city, town and local centres to promote more rapid adaption to changing circumstances
• permitting conversion of buildings to small workspaces to support local innovation and entrepreneurship as part of the national strategy to transform the economy

Planning Minister Tom Arthur said:
“The pandemic has highlighted that use of outdoor spaces can help bolster our hospitality industry and make city, town and local centres feel more welcoming and vibrant. I encourage local businesses and communities to submit their views on these proposals to relax planning requirements.

“Extending permitted development rights to make changes in use easier will help to deliver our entrepreneurship ambitions by creating enterprising communities, as set out in the National Strategy for Economic Transformation.

“Proposals to support the extension of the charging network reflect the significant growth in electric vehicle ownership forecasted for the coming years and the vital role of electric vehicle owners in helping Scotland reach net zero by 2045.”

UKHospitality Scotland Executive Director Leon Thompson said: “Over the course of the pandemic hospitality businesses made great use of outdoor space, allowing them to trade whilst keeping customers and workers safe. Outdoor seating is extremely popular with guests and these often imaginative and creative spaces continue to be used extensively.

“UKHospitality Scotland is pleased that the Scottish Government has listened to our calls and is putting forward plans to relax planning requirements. This will save businesses time and money, whilst adding to the vibrancy of our towns and cities. This move will also help to boost local economies and create jobs.”