Council to cut red tape to boost Glasgow cafe culture

Glasgow is set to cut through the red tape faced by businesses running outdoor seating areas in the city centre in an effort to boost cafe culture.
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Changes to the council’s street cafe policy could see operating hours extended so venues can open from 7am until 10pm.

It would be slightly different on the main pedestrianised areas at Buchanan Street, Gordon Street, Royal Bank Place and Exchange Place, where operators will be able to serve customers from 11am to 10pm.

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Alterations will also be made to the application process to speed up bids, with businesses no longer needing to get planning permissions themselves.

The proposed changes to the policy will go before councillors on Thursday.

We could see more outdoor seating.We could see more outdoor seating.
We could see more outdoor seating.

Cllr Angus Millar, the council’s convener for city centre recovery, said: “Temporary street cafes have been a popular and successful feature of Glasgow city centre in recent years, and were an important part of the immediate recovery from the pandemic.

“The new policy will benefit both businesses and residents through a clearer and shorter application process, longer opening hours and guidelines for operators to observe.”

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A review of the policy was carried out due to “consistent feedback from residents and businesses that improvements could be made”.

Residents said there were too many outdoor areas not being kept clean during the day or properly cleaned at night and operators weren’t always following the approved operating hours. They also reported equipment wasn’t being removed outwith these hours and that some operators weren’t complying with the permitted boundaries, cutting down space for pedestrians.

Businesses believed the application process was “too complicated and takes too long” while the opening hours weren’t long enough and there was confusion over the requirements of the policy.

Work on the policy was interrupted by the covid pandemic but, as businesses began to reopen, rules were relaxed to create more space for people returning to the city.

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Council officials have reported outdoor cafes played a “key part” in the recovery of the city centre, particularly with “extended restrictions placed on many sectors including hospitality”.

“The growth of outdoor cafes over the course of the pandemic has further justified the need for an updated approach,” council officials added.

A ‘temporary street cafe’ refers to a site that “occupies a section of the public road or footway to enable an existing business to provide additional tables and chairs”.

Under the current system, businesses need to secure planning permission to change the use of the footway, roads consent to occupy the public road or footway and an alcohol licence. The process can take at least 10 weeks.

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The changes will include a greater commitment to enforcement to ensure operators “act as good neighbours” and a clear list of responsibilities for businesses. Operators will need to display signs onsite showing the space they have been given permission to occupy, including the number of the tables and chairs.

To make the process easier for businesses, the council intends to apply for planning consent in the city centre for temporary street cafes so operators would only need to apply for a roads permit.

Applications outwith core streets in the city centre will still need to follow the existing planning process. The process will be moved online next year.

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