Planning law changes to benefit hospitality and retail businesses

Planning law changes to benefit hospitality and retail businesses

Darragh O'Brien

Planning law changes will be brought forward to continue the waiving of licence fees for outdoor dining and to allow retailers to install reverse vending machines for the planned deposit and return scheme, the government has said.

The waiving of the street furniture licence fee for tables and chairs outside a hotel, restaurant, public house or other establishment where food is sold for consumption on the premises was first introduced in 2021 with the fee of €125 per table reduced to €0 per table.

The proposed extension into 2023 will assist the hospitality sector this year by reducing the cost for maintaining outdoor dining in public spaces. Similar to previous years there will also be no fee for awnings, canopies and heaters etc. used in conjunction with the tables and chairs.

Separately, changes will be made in anticipation of the deposit and return scheme for plastic bottles and aluminium cans coming into effect from February 2024.

The scheme encourages people to recycle drink containers and works by charging anyone who buys a drink a small deposit for the plastic bottle or can that it comes in. Customers get this money back when they return the container to a retailer or other collection point to be recycled.

To assist retail outlets in preparing for the scheme, changes will be made to the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 to provide an exemption for the installation, alteration, repair or replacement of reverse vending machines and to insert a new definition of “reverse vending machine” into the principal regulations.

Darragh O’Brien, the minister for housing, local government and heritage, said: “This year government are further supporting businesses across the country with another waiver of the street furniture licence fee.

“The outdoor dining experience has been incredibly popular with the public. For a small café or restaurant this fee can represent another financial burden and hospitality businesses still need our help, so I am delighted to extend the provisions of these regulations for another year.

“When it comes to reverse vending machines, these planning amendments will help us ensure that we smooth the way to have the necessary infrastructure available for when the scheme begins in February 2024. Ultimately, they will make it easier for people to recycle, and result in changes in consumer behaviour.”

Kieran O’Donnell, minister of state for local government and planning, added: “Small businesses are the backbone of local economies and I’m delighted that we are extending this important support for hospitality businesses.

“I hope that even more businesses can avail of the opportunity to offer outdoor dining — benefiting their operations in the forthcoming summer season and enlivening our towns and cities.”

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