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‘Discriminatory’ outdoor seating plans under fire

A trio of trade bodies have urged the Scottish government not to exclude bars and pubs from proposed outdoor seating regulations.

Scottish trade bodies urge government to include bars and pubs in outdoor seating regulations

The Scottish government closed the consultation period on its Permitted Development Rights (PDR) proposals on 4 August. The plans would allow outdoor restaurants and other ‘class 3’ food-and-drink companies to provide outdoor seating without a planning application.

However, pubs and bars are classified differently, and so would be excluded from the plans.

As such, the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA), Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), and UK Hospitality Scotland (UKHS) have spoken out.

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

“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 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.

“Our sector is extremely envious of the recent development in England where hospitality venues can now benefit from the ability to erect a non-permanent outdoor structure, subject to a number of restrictions and conditions, without planning permission or associated costs.

“It is incumbent on the Scottish government to support ‘all’ sectors of the Scottish licensed hospitality industry in this same manner.”

UKHS stressed how the move would help the hospitality sector recover from the impact of the pandemic.

Leon Thompson, UKHS executive director, added: “Last month England made pavement licences permanent, providing potentially business-saving opportunities to hundreds of pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes. Scotland’s hospitality businesses should have access to at least the same generous terms.”

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