The COVID 19 pandemic saw the popularity of staycation-ing and outdoor hospitality soar. This summer the demand has heightened further, fueled by a combination of the current woes facing the travel industry and the recent heatwave temperatures in the UK.

During this time many businesses, particularly those in the tourism and leisure sectors, have benefited from a temporary relaxation of planning controls.

This relaxation has permitted measures such as:

  • pavement seating areas for cafes and bars;
  • the use of outdoor seating areas (such as beer gardens) and takeaway facilities;
  • extended hours for retail opening and deliveries; and
  • holiday parks and other seasonal businesses continuing to trade beyond any usual fixed months of operation

without Councils insisting on planning permissions to cover development and/or operations of this nature.

The relevant Scottish Government guidance  encouraged councils to take a practical and flexible approach to allow businesses to adapt and open for trade whilst accommodating social distancing and other safety measures.

At the time of writing rates of infection continue to be relatively high in Scotland, however, in-line with the broader policy objective of learning to live with COVID 19, the Scottish Government has issued revised guidance  confirming that the relaxation of planning and building controls will be withdrawn on 30 September 2022.

Implications for businesses

Going forward, where operators wish to retain development and/or operations that benefited from the relaxations on a more permanent basis, planning applications may well need to be submitted depending on the circumstances of each business and its premises.

While exceptions may apply for works confined to internal alterations or operations that are properly considered to be temporary or ancillary, in the majority of cases planning permissions (and, if relevant, building control consents) are likely to be required.

Any unauthorised development and/or operations that continue beyond September 2022 will be at risk of enforcement action being taken by the relevant council.

If you consider that your business may be impacted by the removal of the planning relaxations and would like more information or advice, please do get in touch.


Victoria Lane

Senior Associate