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Glasgow City Council

New policy will boost street café culture in Glasgow city centre

A Glasgow City Council committee today (17 November) approved changes to the city's temporary street café policy.


New street cafe policy will help recovery of Glasgow city centre


A previous proposal in early 2020 to make changes to the policy through approval at the council's City Administration Committee was interrupted by the pandemic, and since then, outdoor cafes have played an important role in the recovery of the city centre and particularly in the hospitality sector, which was the subject of extended restrictions.


In the years before the pandemic, the city centre experience was improved by a growth in the number of bars, cafes and restaurants, and a parallel growth in Temporary Street Cafes (TSCs). During the pandemic, TSC regulations were relaxed and more space created to attract visitors to the city centre and supporting the area's businesses.


A TSC is defined as a site that occupies a section of the public road or footway to enable an existing business to provide additional tables and chairs. A condition is that all external equipment - tables, chairs, etc - must be removed at the end of each day.


While feedback from both business and city centre residents is generally positive about TSCs, a review found that businesses perceived the application process to be too complicated and lengthy, opening hours not long enough, and confusion over obligations and requirements for operators. Residents had issues in some cases with cleanliness, over-runs on opening hours, equipment being stored externally, and blocking of public footways. The new policy looks to address the concerns of businesses and residents.


The current application for a TSC typically takes at least 10 weeks as the applicant must have planning permission, roads consent and an alcohol licence.


The proposed changes - which would go live in March 2023 - to the policy would see:

· Greater clarity on the obligation to be a good neighbour, listing obligations and responsibilities, including the need to display signage on-site showing the space the business has been given permission to occupy, including the number of tables and chairs;

· Extended opening hours (7am - 10pm) for TSCs - other than at Buchanan Street, Gordon Street, Royal Bank Place and Royal Exchange Place, where the hours will be 11am - 10pm;

· Glasgow City Council will apply for planning consent to use designated public land in the city centre for TSCs, meaning that each new applicant within the core city centre areas detailed above would only have to apply for a permit to occupy the public road. On the designated streets there will be no requirement for the operator to apply for individual planning consent; and

· The application system will go online, rather than the current manual process.


The pedestrianised area of Buchanan Street, Gordon Street, Royal Bank Place and Royal Exchange Place presents an opportunity to take a different approach to temporary street cafe layout and operation (this area has the highest concentration of TSCs in the city centre). Council officers will work with stakeholders to develop an approach that satisfies operator requirements and meets the quality aspirations for this key city centre area.


Councillor Angus Millar, Convener for City Centre Recovery at Glasgow City Council, 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."


The TSC system will be administered and enforced by the council's Roadworks Control team.

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