The opening of the streets to al fresco drinking and dining was one of the few exciting features of the COVID era. The buzz of sitting with fellow diners in newly pedestrianised streets around the UK made us forget for a moment the stresses and strains of a difficult and traumatic year.
So successful was the relaxation that on 5 September the Government launched a consultation to bring in permitted development rights for:
1. outdoor markets to be held for an unlimited number of days in outdoor public spaces; and
2. moveable structures in the grounds of pubs, cafes, restaurants and historic visitor attractions, including listed buildings.
As the nature of shopping and leisure destinations change and become more experiential and experimental, the idea of allowing businesses to add this dimension to their offerings takes us a step further towards reinvigorating stale neighbourhoods and allowing businesses to put themselves in the best position to remain open at least to some degree should the worst happen in the winter months ahead (though we dare not even think it).
Our F&B community has invested in outdoor furniture that needs to pay for itself. And despite Brexit we have all become a little bit more European as we embrace al fresco hospitality. After all, who can resist watching the world go by with a pint that never gets warm or even a glass of vin chaud sitting under the fairy lights and wrapped up in a warm winter coat with a blanket on your lap?
Temporary measures that have given a huge boost to high streets and hospitality during the pandemic could be made permanent following a public consultation launched today (5 September 2021).