New scheme paves way for European style al fresco dining and outdoor roofs in Laois

Laois Offaly TD says Government has committed millions to the scheme

Conor Ganly


Conor Ganly



Dining al fresco was possible for a short time in Portlaoise last year when pedestrianisation was introduced.

A new outdoor dining scheme delivered in partnership between Fáilte Ireland and Laois & Offaly County Councils will help tourism and hospitality businesses according to Charlie Flanagan TD.

The Fine Gael TD says funding allocated under the scheme will also enable the councils to develop permanent outdoor public dining spaces in towns and urban centres across the country, similar to those that exist in various European cities.   

Businesses will be able to apply for grants of up to €4,000 while councils can make proposals that will cost up to €200,000.

 “Earlier this week, government launched a new policy entitled Our Rural Future, the most ambitious and transformational policy for rural development in decades.

“Developing outdoor dining and socialising spaces will help to improve the vibrancy of our towns across Laois & Offaly and bring them more in line with the European model. This is a key commitment in our new policy," he said.

The TD said the new Outdoor Dining Scheme has two aims one of which could involve some form of outdoor roofing.

"It will enable individual tourism and hospitality businesses to increase their dining and seating capacity in the short-term and will also create a long-term strategy for our local authority to develop appropriate, permanent, weatherproofed outdoor dining infrastructure in the constituency.

“This will support jobs and businesses and transform appropriate outdoor spaces across Laois & Offaly as welcoming, vibrant places that will help support economic recovery,” said Dep Flanagan.


Part One of the Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme covers Outdoor Seating and Accessories. 

This is open to individual tourism and hospitality businesses including hotels, cafes, restaurants and attractions where food is sold for consumption on the premises. Local Authorities will administer the Scheme through their internal business perspective and processes. 

All applicants will be required to comply with planning codes, legislative and other compliance requirements. The Scheme aims to expand on the work done in 2020 by Local Authorities in supporting businesses and will support individual independent hospitality and tourism businesses towards the cost of equipment to provide additional outdoor seating and facilitate these businesses to increase their outdoor dining capacity for the summer of 2021. 

 Applicants can apply for a grant of up to €4,000 (up to 75% of the ex-VAT cost of equipment purchased/installed). Costs for outdoor tables, chairs, umbrellas, electric heaters, screens/windbreaks, plant stands and wooden platforms will be covered under the Scheme.   Expenditure must be incurred between 1st April 2020 and 30th September 2021 and the scheme will open for applications on April 12th 2021 through Local Authority websites. 

Part Two of the Scheme covers Weatherproofing & Outdoor Dining Infrastructure.   

This will support Local Authorities to upgrade and enhance streets and public spaces and implement weather-proofing solutions which will facilitate year-round outdoor dining in urban tourism centres. This element of the Scheme will facilitate medium-large scale, weather-proofed dining areas for a collective of businesses in a single zone/street, similar to those that exist in various European cities.

 Each Local Authority can apply for up to €200,000 for a maximum of 2 locations.  Additional funding may be made available subject to the quality and economic value of the proposals.  Permanent robust and design appropriate weatherproofing structures, including parasols, electric heaters, wind breakers/screens and associated enabling works to accommodate these interventions on a long-term basis will be included.

 Roof structures and awnings will be considered subject to planning requirements being adhered to.  Key is that these remedial works will increase the outdoor dining capacity within our cities and towns, whilst also ensuring the safety of diner and