Hospitality businesses will be able to place tables and chairs on the pavement outside their premises without submitting a planning application under measures expected to come into force at the end of next month.

Strong support was expressed in a public consultation for the extension of permitted development rights to enable more cafés, bars and restaurants to offer outdoor eating and drinking. Regulations to implement the measures were laid in the Scottish Parliament on Friday 10 February for approval by MSPs.

Councils will, however, retain powers to prevent and deal with obstructions that make it difficult for people to access pavements safely and effectively. For example, people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments, or families with children in pushchairs.

The 12-week consultation also backed the relaxation of planning rules for the conversion of certain premises into cafes, restaurants, or small-scale offices, as well as the installation of larger electric vehicle charging equipment in car parks. If approved by Parliament, all these measures would be allowed under certain circumstances without the need for a planning application.

Commenting on these new measures, the SNP MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse said:

“These new measures that will come into force soon are a positive step, giving business owners in constituencies like mine the autonomy to flexibly operate.

“This will generate new business for hospitality operators, increasing new opportunities for customers, employees and employers.

“After the stresses placed on local hospitality businesses during the pandemic, it is right that the Scottish Government and MSPs come together to create a route for sustainable economic recovery for small businesses across Scotland. These measures will ensure that businesses have the ability to take decisions for their own benefit, the benefit of their customers, and the benefit of town centres like in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.”