There was some good news for the hospitality sector in Scotland this month.

Under new rules expected to come into force at the end of March, these businesses will be able to put tables and chairs outside their premises, without having to apply for planning permission.

This means you won’t have to pay fees to apply, or wait for things to be dealt with — which usually takes at least two months.

Premises will also see it as a positive that they’ll avoid the uncertainty of obtaining permission, especially if an application is likely to attract objections or representations.


This extension of permitted development rights received strong support in a 12-week government consultation, which also included proposals to relax planning rules for converting certain premises into cafes, restaurants, or small-scale offices, as well as installing larger electric vehicle charging stations in car parks.

The measures will be brought into force through a statutory instrument laid in the Scottish Parliament on 10 February, 2023. If parliament approves the changes, they’re expected to come into force on 31 March.

On its website, the Scottish Government says this move supports Scottish town and city centre businesses as they recover from the pandemic and respond to the cost of living crisis.

Licensing considerations

However, chances are you’ll still have to apply to your council for a pavement permit, as local authorities will retain powers to prevent and deal with obstructions that make it difficult for people to access pavements safely and effectively.

This can include accessibility issues for those in wheelchairs, those with visual impairments, or families with children in pushchairs.

Please remember too, if you want to sell alcohol that people will consume in your outdoor area, you will need this to be included in your premises licence’s red line.

If this area isn’t included already, you will need to apply for a major variation from your licensing board.

Our commercial property team can talk you through the new rules and discuss any other things you’ll need to consider. Please contact me or partner David Scott to discuss, and if you found this article useful, our team has published more commentary.