GLASGOW'S 'cafe culture' could be threatened by city council plans.

The city council has signalled that it could demand full planning permission from any venue with as much as a table and chair on its adjoining pavement.

The council has said there has been no change of official policy but a shift in approach has sparked accusations the licensed and catering industries are being used as a cash cow.

Since 2007, around the peak of Glasgow's promotion of itself as a European destination, venues required approval from the roads department that public thoroughfares were not blocked and permission to serve alcohol from the licensing board.

But in recent days it has emerged that venues renewing their consents with the roads department or applying for the first time to cash in on the longer summer days are being told their bids cannot progress without full planning permission.

The cost per planning application is around £400 but would also involve the services of lawyers and architects, taking the cost well into four figures with no guarantee of success.

One senior figure in the city's licensed trade said: "This looks like a major blow to hard-pressed operators just as the good weather and tourist season kick off.

"It’s bad news for the city’s economy and visitor appeal and the timing passes belief. In most cases the failure to get planning consent will be down to genuine oversight, it’s just one element of a major paperwork exercise, yet many business could face a major hole in their bank accounts.”

Another source said the number of venues with outside eating planning consent is less than 10 per cent of the total providing seating, adding: "This applies to the cafe with two tables and four chairs outside selling a coffee and knickerboker glory as much as it does to venues whose outside area takes up a considerable amount of the public realm."

Eight years ago the city's licensing board cut through much of the red tape and planning obstacles to make more outside dining areas possible.

It tapped into attempts at the time to create a Mediterranean cafe culture, where alcohol was part of a wider social experience rather than be burdened with the connotations of binge drinking and disorder.

The city centre and parts of the outlying areas had also undergone public realm improvements, the smoking ban had led to a huge rise in demand for outdoor seating and the continental-style pavement culture was welcomed within the retail sector as generating city centre vibrancy.

In Edinburgh the city council had had a year-long trial designed to stimulate cafe culture around the part-pedestrianised George Street plaza.

But while efforts to create a different drinking culture may be somewhere off a significant success, the city centre and parts of the west end and south side have witnessed a mushrooming of outdoor dining in the past decade, sparking allegations of a cash-in.

A council spokesman said the requirement for planning permission was "well-established" and "had not changed".

But he added: "As part of the council’s ongoing work in this area, there is an action in 2016 for outdoor café policy to be reviewed. This would seek to better integrate the three permissions that any pavement café may require to hold.

"The intention of this is to ensure the continued promotion of outdoor café culture which adds significant value to Glasgow city centre."