I propose to take Questions Nos. 699 and 765 together.
Under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended (the Act), all development, unless specifically exempted under the Act or associated Regulations, requires planning permission. Section 4 of the Act and Schedule 2 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended, set out various exemptions from the requirement to obtain planning permission.
Furthermore, section 254 of the Act provides for a street furniture licensing system for prescribed appliances and structures, placed on, above, under or along a public road, including footpaths. One of the prescribed structures relates to the placing of tables and chairs outside a hotel, restaurant, public house or other establishment where food is sold for consumption on the premises. Development that is carried out in accordance with section 254 of the Act is deemed exempted development for the purposes of the Act.
Section 246 of the Act provides that the Minister can make Regulations providing for prescribed fees to be paid to planning authorities in relation to applications for grants of licences under s254 of the Act. The fee for a licence for tables and chairs is currently set at €125 per table per year.
With a view to supplementing the Outdoor Dining Enhancement Grant Scheme which was recently announced by my colleague, the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, and further to the expected easing of Covid-19 restrictions over the coming months, my Department is in the process of bringing forward a package of amending planning regulations to assist in facilitating outdoor dining as well as increased vibrancy and commercial activity in urban areas, particularly in relation to the hospitality and restaurant sectors. These draft regulations - which will include the waiving of the street furniture licence fees in respect of tables and chairs used for serving food outside hotels, restaurants and pubs in the current year and revised planning arrangements in relation to the erection of awnings, canopies and other structures at such establishments - are scheduled to be discussed at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage on 27 April next, following which, in accordance with the requirements of section 262(4) of the Act, a positive resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas will be required before they can be signed into law.