Cafés, restaurants and other businesses that have created outdoor seating areas for customers after being granted a new pavement licence say the move has boosted trade.
Bath & North East Somerset Council introduced the licences to help traders get back up and running during the Covid-19 pandemic at the same time as allowing people to safely social distance while socialising and eating out.
The council has so far granted 19 licences, which has led to positive feedback from traders who say having an outdoor presence is improving the visibility of their business and increasing custom.
The access restrictions in the city centre introduced by the council to support social distancing are also enhancing the city, making it easier for people to get around, encouraging walking and cycling and reducing the number of vehicles.
Councillor Paul Crossley, cabinet member for Community Services, said: “Our licencing team have carried out many visits to traders to give them advice on their applications and make it as easy as we can for them to get a pavement licence. We want to revive trade in our high streets so we are granting applications wherever possible, whilst taking into account any objections, to support the local economy. The access restrictions put in following the Government directive are also helping to create a pleasant atmosphere in the city with fewer vehicles and more walking and cycling.
“Recovering from the impact of Covid-19 is new territory for us all, so I would like to thank the businesses who have worked with us as we have all had to get to grips with the new legislation and make it work for our local businesses. Many residents and businesses have been supportive of these applications which is a great example of how our local communities back each other up during these challenging times.”
The pavement licences do not require planning permission and allow a quick turnaround time with a seven-day consultation period. Businesses are permitted to put seating, tables and other street furniture outside during business hours and store them indoors when closed. The licences are temporary until September 2021, cost £100 and businesses can apply here.
44AD artspace used outdoor space to celebrate their first exhibition after lockdown. Katie O’Brien, manager of 44AD artspace, said: “The council’s pro-active approach of letting Abbey Quarter business know about the changes in licensing meant the opening of our show was a huge success, as we were able to use some of York Street. We were even able to set up a ‘wine window’, which kept our visitors happy!”
The Grapes in Westgate Street, which won Best Bar in Bath earlier this year, were granted permission for space outside The Little Theatre. Owner Ellie Leiper said: “The pavement licence has helped us enormously in what would have otherwise been a very difficult trading period. We have had so many positive comments on the use of the space and overall, the street being closed to traffic in the day and our new ‘beer garden’ have improved the ambience around the pub.”
Many of the businesses are taking part in the government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme operating until the end of August which offers up to £10 off per person for food and non-alcoholic drinks. Find out more here