Pubs, cafes and restaurants may be allowed to keep marquees and extra seating in their grounds under plans to extend rules brought in to help hospitality during pandemic
- The UK Government plans are aimed at helping the hospitality sector to recover
- Plans to keep street markets open year-round are included in the consultation
- Hospitality sector want town centre traffic restricted to retain outdoor dining
- But Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government failed to include al fresco dining on streets in announcement as some exemptions wrap up locally
Pubs, cafes and restaurants which built marquees and additional seating to adhere to social distancing guidelines could be allowed to keep the new structures post-pandemic.
Government plans to make some of the changes permanent have been outlined in a consultation launched today (Sunday), aimed at helping the hospitality sector to recover.
Under the plans, street markets could also be kept open year-round, with plans to give local councils powers to grant outdoor markets for an unlimited number of days.
The consultation will consider only some of the changes introduced during the pandemic.
Pubs, cafes and restaurants could be allowed to keep the new structures post-pandemic
The plans have been welcomed by the hospitality sector, who have urged ministers to go one step further by promoting and retaining outdoor seating in the streets by restricting traffic in town and city centres.
But the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government failed to include al fresco dining on streets in their announcement.
The ability to quickly and easily grant pavement licences for al fresco dining has been extended to September next year, but some exemptions are already being wound up locally.
Earlier this month, Westminster City Council ended the road closures which have allowed al fresco dining in Soho throughout the pandemic.
UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: ‘The proposal to make outdoor measures permanent is a welcome boost for the hospitality sector, its customers and local communities.
The plans have been welcomed by the hospitality sector, who have urged ministers toto promote and retain outdoor seating by restricting traffic in town and city centres
‘It has provided a vital lifeline to venues all over the country during an extraordinarily difficult period and allowing operators to provide extra outside seating has been a key driver of survival and recovery since reopening.’
But, she believes businesses ‘face huge hurdles’ heading into the autumn and winter months.
‘The move by some councils to restrict outdoor seating and return traffic to these areas is a significant blow to our city centres and threatens a huge number of businesses and jobs,’ she added.
‘It is in the interest of the country to have a thriving, dynamic and properly-supported hospitality sector and retaining these outdoor measures would help secure the recovery of a large and vital part of the UK economy.’
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick added: ‘The simple reforms we made during the pandemic to help hospitality businesses, markets and historic visitor attractions make use of outdoor spaces more easily, made a massive impact.
Under the plans, street markets could also be kept open year-round, with plans to give local councils powers to grant outdoor markets for an unlimited number of days
‘As part of our vision to transform high streets into thriving places to work, visit and live, we intend to make as many of these measures permanent fixtures of British life as possible.’
But, Labour’s shadow communities secretary Steve Reed said the move is ‘undermining the high street’ as retail spaces are given alternative uses.
‘Measures to help businesses recover after the pandemic are welcome but this is a Conservative Government which is undermining the high street by allowing retail spaces to be turned into low quality housing and failing to level the playing field between bricks and mortar businesses and online retailers,’ he said.
‘The Conservatives have left our high streets and British businesses behind, blocking them out when they should have been listening to them the most, and actively watering down a global deal to tackle major tax-dodging and stop online giants undercutting our high streets.’