Government prepares to set out plans for 'al fresco Britain'

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Government plans for 'al fresco Britain' hospitality July 4 reopening Coronavirus Business and Planning Bill

Related tags: Al fresco, Government, Legislation

The Government is expected to bring forward a bill later today (25 June) aimed at allowing pubs, cafes and restaurants more freedom to operate outside.

The Business and Planning Bill will grant fast-track approval to allow reopened hospitality businesses to convert car parks and terraces into temporary beer gardens, and some sites will be able to set up tables and chairs on pavements to serve customers.

Under the legislation, the current 28-day consultation period will be reduced to five days, and every venue with an alcohol license will be given permission to sell beer and wine for people to drink on the street.

It is hoped that the new law could be pushed through within days so as to coincide with the proposed reopening of the hospitality sector on 4 July​, and is seen seen as a significant step towards getting the industry back on its feet following the Coronavirus lockdown.

Regarding the plans, a Government source told the Daily Mail​: "People talk about the cafe culture on the Continent and we want to recreate something like that here this summer - you could call it al fresco Britain. 

"It obviously depends on everyone adopting a can-do attitude to try and save the summer, but we are going to play our part by cutting red tape and getting out of the way of business."

With social distancing measures meaning most operators will have to significantly limit their capacity once they reopen, there has been many discussions by different councils across the country about allowing businesses in the sector to make greater use of outside space over the summer.

Yesterday (24 June) it was reported that a plan put forward by Wembley Park developer Quintain to significantly extend the area's outdoor seating capacity had been approved​ by Brent Council; and last week Westminster Council set out plans​ to temporarily close roads and create al fresco dining spaces across the borough throughout the summer

Meanwhile, a pilot scheme to help restaurants provide outdoor eating and drinking has been launched​ as part of the Liverpool Without Walls project to re-imagine the city under social distancing.

Road closures, pop up parks, a business grant scheme and free trading permits for businesses are part of the project, which is being co-ordinated by Liverpool City Council, the Liverpool BID Company (which supports 1,500 city centre businesses), and the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce.

Commenting on the Government's bill, UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “Businesses will need all the help they can get to return to healthy trading and protecting jobs, so simplifying the licensing process and reducing red tape will be a great help. Opening up outdoor spaces for venues could be a vital lifesaver and mean the difference between a successful reopening or business failures and job losses.

“The devil will be in the detail, so it is important that we get some clear guidance to ensure consistency of implementation across local authorities nationwide. These need to ensure minimal cost and notification rather than application.

“It has been encouraging to see some local authorities already considering how they can facilitate this. We hope that local authorities will jump at this chance to provide more space for venues as it will be hugely valuable in keeping businesses going and saving as many jobs as possible.”

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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