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Moray businesses could benefit from new application process for outdoor dining

By Jonathan Clark

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LOCAL businesses are set to benefit from a council-approved permit application process which will make it "much easier" for them to promote outdoor dining.

Forres High Street could be in line for redevelopment funding.
Forres High Street could be in line for redevelopment funding.

The new application process will allow businesses to apply for a permit for chairs, tables, barriers, and signage outside their premises.

Until this year, businesses were required to apply for planning permission if they wished to have furniture on public footpaths. However, due to changes introduced by the Scottish Government in March 2023, this requirement has now been removed.

A flat charge of £175 will be put in place which will cover administration and inspection costs, although this is set to be reviewed at a future meeting of the council.

The approved guidance will ensure the safeguarding of pedestrians, with precautions being put in place to aid those with mobility and visual impairments. This will include an unobstructed corridor outside the premises, as well as removable barriers.

Councillors supported the permit, highlighting the benefits it will bring to hospitality businesses within Moray’s town centres and coastal villages.

Council leader Kathleen Robertson (Forres, Conservative) said: “This update creates opportunities for businesses to operate in a different way.

“The guidance and permit application process makes it much easier for businesses to be supported in doing this and I look forward to seeing our vibrant town centres flourishing with this change.”

Councillor Graham Leadbitter (Elgin City South, SNP) hoped that the cost would be proportionate to the size of business, rather than a flat rate of £175 for all.

He added: "Business on Batchen Street, for example, will only have a couple of tables outside. Whereas if you are a much bigger business you would be able to put out 10 tables.

"A combined amount for square meterage would bring the cost down for smaller businesses."

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