The other week, we told you about pubs now being able to treat their car parks as outdoor terraces and use them to serve drinks, when pub gardens are allowed to reopen on April 12. Now, a new announcement from the government means that eating and drinking venues will find it a lot easier to put up temporary outdoor structures without having to apply for planning permission.
Last weekend, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick detailed new plans to help the hospitality industry get back on its feet again. Crucial to this is the relaxing of restrictions around temporary outdoor spaces for bars, pubs, cafés and restaurants. Under the new measures, these venues will no longer need to apply to local councils for planning permission to put up marquees, gazebos, awnings and so on. They will also be allowed to keep them up for longer: current regulations say that such structures can only be in place for up to 28 days.
This is obviously potentially a huge game-changer for venues that either don’t have any existing provision for outside eating and drinking or ones who simply fear that we might have a shit summer with people unwilling to be outside anyway. It follows news that it will be a lot easier for bars and restaurants to apply for a temporary pavement licence for tables, and that this provision would continue to be available to venues through to September 2022. However, according to a story in Big Hospitality, these new outdoor spaces must not be substantially enclosed – more picnic gazebo than a massive festival tent. So you won’t get so wet, but you might still freeze your arse off.
In more good news, Jenricks also announced a £56m ‘Welcome Back Fund’ to allow local councils to give their high streets and promenades a bit of a tart-up before the summer. It doesn’t sound like that’s going to stretch very far, but it’s the thought that counts. Be prepared for 2021 to be the Year of the Hanging Basket.