SOLIHULL LICENCES: Dozens have applied for pavement licences
Two new venues about to open in Solihull town centre are among the latest to apply for pavement licences.
Parisian-style brasserie Côte, opening on June 1, and The Magic Bean Coffee Shop, which will welcome customers from next Friday, have applied to the council.
Requests for al-fresco areas have increased across the borough, as pubs, cafes and other businesses try to limit the impact of Covid restrictions.
The number of applications for the licences – brought in last year following the easing of the first lockdown – recently hit 25.
The aim was to fast-track the process for venues who were keen to make use of outdoor areas and offset the impact of social distancing measures.
Initially interest was sluggish, with just seven requests to the council before Christmas, but there has been greater demand in recent months.
This might have been partly driven by the government’s announcement that it would allow outdoor eating and drinking in April, ahead of the wider reopening this week.
Although six more applications since the middle of last month suggest many are also making plans for the summer and beyond.
While businesses are now allowed to welcome customers indoors again, there is also a sense – in spite of May’s rather mixed weather – there may be increased demand for tables outdoors.
The option is likely to be attractive among those more cautious about eating and drinking inside; some scientists continue to caution that the infection risk in an enclosed space is far greater than in the open air.
Solihull town centre, understandably given the number of eateries, accounts for more than half of the applications.
Although there have also been decent clusters in the likes of Knowle and Shirley.
Not all outdoor areas go through the pavement licence process.
Premises can still opt to apply for a licence under the old system – covered by the Highways Act.
This is seen as a slightly slower approach but does allow more permanent furniture to be installed outside, rather than having to bring in tables and chairs overnight.
Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter
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