Boost for city’s street café culture

Street cafes in York have been given the go-ahead to continue operating for another year, as part of the Government’s national response to the pandemic.

Businesses must still apply for a license under the Business and Planning Act, which was due to end this month, after the Government extended the Act until 30 September 2022.

Any businesses which wish to apply for an extension must apply by Thursday 7 October.

York City Council says it has contacted all businesses which hold a current licence to notify them of this deadline.

The council’s Executive considered the extension as part of its Recovery and Renewal update on 26 August.

As part of this work, it has been agreed to extend the current foot streets arrangements, due to expire September 2021, whilst also continuing with what is the most extensive review of accessibility in the city centre since the pedestrianised areas were introduced in the 1980s.

The outcome of this review will be shared throughout October ahead of an Executive meeting in November. This will inform the future of pavement cafés in some of the foot streets location which have been subject to temporary arrangements throughout the pandemic.

Councillor Andrew Waller, executive member for the economy and strategic planning, said: “The pavement café licences have been an important way to help businesses to keep running through these difficult times with restrictions on numbers, and responding to continuing caution that many people are still applying.

“Many local and independent businesses have needed the additional outdoor seating but in a city centre with so many narrow streets, and other demands on space, it has needed some working through.”

Cllr Andy D’Agorne, executive member for transport, said: “We’re really pleased that we will be able to continue supporting the viability of businesses that wish to extend their licences and continue operating street cafes, which have become a really important part of our city’s culture.

“We also understand how important a decision the council has to make over the permanent foot streets arrangement in November. This extension of the legislation does not affect the timing or nature of that decision.

“We will continue to work with licence holders and take action to make sure the pavement furniture meets accessibility standards.”

Andrew Lowson, executive director of York Business Improvement District (BID), added: “The BID has spoken to many businesses in the city centre about the positive impact the street café licenses have had.

“The public too have embraced the café culture and it has been a welcome sight this summer to see our streets bustling with residents and visitors, enjoying the ambience and York’s hospitality offer.

“We’ll support the council to remind businesses in the city centre that they will need to apply if they want to keep their licence for another year.”

The temporary extension will allow the pavement cafés to continue, with a further decision on the long-term future of the foot streets to be considered in November.