The new measures, which are currently being scrutinised by the Scottish government, are set to boost hospitality and town centre recovery.
Strong support was expressed in a public consultation for the extension of permitted development rights to enable more pubs, bars, cafés and restaurants to offer outdoor drinking and eating.
Regulations to implement the measures were laid in the Scottish parliament on Friday 10 February for approval by MSPs and could be implemented by 31 March 2023.
Power with councils
However, councils will retain the authority to prevent and deal with obstructions that make it difficult for people to access pavements safely and effectively, such as people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments, or families with children in pushchairs.
The 12-week consultation also backed the relaxation of planning rules for the conversion of certain premises into cafes, restaurants, or small-scale offices, as well as the installation of larger electric vehicle charging equipment in car parks. If approved by parliament, all these measures would be allowed under certain circumstances without the need for a planning application.
Planning minister Tom Arthur said: “These measures will support Scotland’s town and city centre businesses to thrive.
“More flexible use of outdoor space can help the hospitality industry recover from the pandemic and cost crisis, while making city and town centres more attractive and welcoming.”
Arthur continued: “The important safeguards for councils seek to ensure no one should be prevented from using pavements and visiting town and city centres safely.
“A more streamlined approach to changes of use can help businesses respond more rapidly to shifting circumstances, support reuse of vacant premises and encourage the return of workers and shoppers to our town and city centres.
“Simplifying planning rules for electric vehicle chargers will support the rollout of infrastructure across Scotland as part of our commitment to tackling climate change and making Scotland a ‘Net Zero’ nation.
“These measures will help deliver our ambition to create a fairer, greener and wealthier Scotland, by making places more attractive for people to live, work and visit.”