A restaurant boss has made a desperate plea to the Scottish Government to keep his outdoor seating area on Aberdeen’s Green for good.
Cafe 52 owner Steve Bothwell first put up the structure, dubbed the Shepherd’s Hut, in 2016.
However, it was given consent on a strictly temporary basis amid fears the pavilion would ruin the traditional appeal of the area.
Mr Bothwell has since had to apply for permission every three years in order to keep it.
And after a spat with council chiefs almost cost him the hut earlier this year, he has decided to try settle the case once and for all.
Holyrood higher-ups will now send an expert official to inspect the hut, and decide its fate.
Is Cafe 52 outdoor seating area any different from Aberdeen Market?
Mr Bothwell has appealed to the Scottish Government to lift all current restrictions on his outdoor seating area and make it a permanent feature on The Green.
And he argues that it is no different from the recently approved replacement Aberdeen Market, which has been hailed as a new “destination for outdoor dining”.
That area will now be used as an open space to host everything from farmers markets to screenings of sports tournaments such as Wimbledon or big football matches.
Earlier this year, the restaurant boss had to apply for a retrospective permission to keep the structure in place after his previous consent expired in November 2022.
While councillors agreed to let it stay at least until June 2026 – following hundreds of letters form hundreds of supporters – it came with a few conditions.
The hut can be open from 9am to 11pm, and any music must be turned off by 10pm.
Council decisions slammed as ‘unreasonable and inconsistent’
In his plea to government officers, Mr Bothwell’s architect claims these conditions are “unreasonable” – adding no one has ever complained about music or other noise so far.
He also slams the council’s decisions as “inconsistent”, stressing no such issues have been mentioned for the proposed market development just feet away from Cafe 52.
Documents add: “It is evident from the case presented in the market redevelopment application that this is a vibrant area of the city centre where outdoor dining (without restricting hours or noise) is being actively promoted.
“The glazed pavilion and many of the [market] images show outdoor catering, eating and drinking, and an event space which the appeal proposal completely aligns with.”
Do you think the glazed pavilion should be allowed to stay permanently? Let us know in our comments section below.
‘Applying for various permissions and renewals is stifling’
Mr Bothwell argues that the timber structure outside Cafe 52 will fit in perfectly with the city centre masterplan, which is “wholly supportive of the outdoor cafe culture”.
And he adds that “bespoke businesses like his” should be allowed to operate in “as unrestrictive way as possible” given the hardships posed by the cost-of-living crisis.
However, Aberdeen City Council is pushing for the appeal to be refused – adamant they did the right thing when deciding the fate of the venue back in June.
Documents in support of the appeal add: “The number, and frequency, of times the appellant has had to apply for various permissions and renewals is stifling.
“The time has come, on the basis of there being no complaints about the condition of any of the structures, to allow permanent permission to be given.”