THEY'RE viewed either as an annoying obstacle or part of a welcome cafe culture.
Seated areas outside pubs and cafes have split public opinion in Dublin, and now city planners are taking a second look.
City bosses have stalled over granting well-known bar owner Charlie Chawke permission to retain tables and chairs on the footpath outside the Oval pub on Middle Abbey Street in the city centre.
The officials have raised a number of concerns, including whether enough room is being left for pedestrians.
In the original planning permission in 2009, the council stipulated that a minimum of 3.4 metres of footpath be "maintained free of any obstruction".
It has now indicated that this condition is not being met.
The council also told the pub not to display any advertising on wind barriers but it appears this order was also broken.
Mr Chawke told the Herald he has yet to be informed by the council about its reservations but is expecting a letter.
He said if there is a problem, "we will have to do something about it".
"We will have to address whatever the issues are, as we always do," Mr Chawke said.
"There will be no problem there.
"We're here to sort problems not create them."
But he added that there is "plenty of room" for people to pass up and down, saying "it's a good wide footpath there. We only take up eight feet."
Planners have requested further information from Mr Chawke before allowing the Oval to continue to have its outside seating area.
Permission lasting for three years was granted in 2009 for a wind barrier as well as tables and chairs to the front of the pub on Middle Abbey Street.
The bar has now applied to retain the area for a longer period.
But the council said: "The applicant is advised that the planning authority is seriously concerned in relation to the lack of compliance with conditions attached to the previous permission.
"The applicant is therefore requested to provide an indication of how it would be intended to comply with such conditions, including detailed drawings and plans and a methodology and timeframe for addressing each item."
The Oval now has six months to submit new plans before the local authority will make a final ruling on the project.