The Government continues to offer whatever support it can to hospitality in order that it can slowly recover from the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Housing & Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has written to local authority council leaders around the country urging them to extend planning exemptions to those pubs, bars and restaurants wishing to set up al fresco dining areas.
Previously, hospitality owners needed to formally apply to their local councils if they wished to set up outside eating and drinking areas on pavements and areas around their premises. The process could be complicated and take weeks to be approved (or declined).
12th April is currently the target date for hospitality to reopen, but outdoors only. There will not be a requirement for customers to order a ‘substantial meal’ and no early closing, but customers must order, eat and drink outside, whilst seated. It wont be until 17th May, at the earliest, that indoor hospitality reopens. Many hospitality businesses, particularly in town or city centres are exploring ways of utilizing space outside their premises to enable them to reopen.
Robert Jenrick has told council leaders that local authority planning rules for al fresco dining and temporary shelters a must be waived (unless there are exceptional circumstances) until September 2022.
Writing in a Sunday newspaper the MP said “The planning changes we put in place last year have been a lifeline to many businesses and they’re here to stay for this summer”. He added “We will be extending pavement licenses for a further 12 months making it easier and cheaper for pubs, restaurants and cafes to continue to make al fresco dining a reality…”