Businesses and residents in Argyll and Bute are being asked for their views on an attempt to bring more of a ‘cafe culture’ to the area’s towns.
Business owners looking to attract customers by setting out tables and chairs on the pavements outside their premises will have to pay for a planning application and for an alcohol licence if they need it - though Argyll and Bute Council intends to waive its usual £165 fee for a pavement licence during the first year of the new policy.
The authority’s policy lead for roads and amenity services, Councillor Ellen Morton, said: “It is our aim to make it as easy as possible for people to apply for pavement licences – we are eager to develop a café culture throughout Argyll and Bute.
“Unfortunately there are some statutory processes that people have to go through; that’s outwith our control. What we are trying to do is make the council’s side of the process as user-friendly as possible. That’s why we’ll be waiving the normal fee of £165 for a licence in the first year.”
The proposed new policy would see businesses make an initial enquiry to the council’s road department who will provide initial advice and help co-ordinate applications.
Following this, the formal application would be progressed for a licence under the Roads Scotland Act. This would normally carry a charge of £165, however, the council will be waiving that fee in the first year following the introduction of the policy.
After the licence is approved, planning permission would have to be sought; this is a statutory obligation and is outwith the council’s control. This is normally subject to a fee of £382.
If a licence for the sale of alcohol is required, this will be subject to the usual process of an application to the licensing board, with a fee of £160.
The Scottish Government is currently considering alterations to ‘permitted development’ policy where some pavement cafes would not require planning permission. This is estimated to be in place by the end of the summer, while the council’s new policy is expected to be in place by the end of August.
The proposed policy can be viewed at www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/consultations/pavement-cafe-licence-policy-consultation until Friday, May 9, with a form for members of the public to leave their comments and suggestions.