Marquees could be here to stay
Ministers are consulting on plans to allow some of the extra outdoor seating and street markets, introduced during the pandemic, to continue. However, the plans as currently identified do not appear to include al fresco style dining on roads. The Government's aim is to make a number of the external seating areas a permanent fixture so people can continue to enjoy outdoor hospitality and entertainment and to encourage businesses to innovate. The Government's plans include supporting communities to hold outdoor markets by giving powers to local councils to grant them for an unlimited number of days. The relaxation will need to be squared against planning policy on what is considered to be temporary.
These plans have been welcomed by the hospitability sector, however the industry is preparing for greater difficulties as the weather turns colder.
The consultation is believed to discuss a potential height limit on marquees (or other similar structures) of four metres (12ft), with the size of any new structures being restricted to less than 50% of the space of the existing buildings. A time limit restriction for any outside structure to operate for no longer than 56 days a year, is also likely to be discussed.
Whilst the ability to assemble outdoor structures at venues, during the pandemic, provided vital assistance during a challenging period, there are concerns that the reopening of roads to allow for traffic would be a huge set back to the hospitability industry.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said:
"As part of our vision to transform high streets into thriving places to work, visit and live, we intend to make as many of these measures permanent fixtures of British life as possible."
UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said:
"It is in the interest of the country to have a thriving, dynamic and properly-supported hospitality sector and retaining these outdoor measures would help secure the recovery of a large and vital part of the UK economy."