Forty-five new pavement café areas will be created across Newcastle as pubs and restaurants reopen and serve outdoors from Monday April 12.
Since last year Newcastle City Council has been fast tracking applications for businesses to spread out into the streets and supporting pubs to adapt their premises so they can welcome customers back during the ongoing pandemic.
That now means the city has 104 pavement licences, with Grey Street – which is being transformed to give more space to people rather than cars – seeing a 140 percent increase in bars and eateries going al fresco.
Ed Foster, the council’s head of public safety and regulation, said: “We are working with businesses to get up and running quickly and, with safety paramount, we have made it as easy as possible for the hospitality industry to make the changes they need to welcome back customers.
“Newcastle is rightly renowned for its excellent hospitality and it is important that those businesses, which provide jobs and a sense of community for so many, have the best chance of continued success.
“We have cut red tape as best we can, making applying for license variations easier and cheaper, be that to offer things like a takeaway service, create outside pavement-café style seating areas, or change the layout of premises.
“And we’ve encouraged publicans, restauranteurs, and café owners to let us know what their reopening plans are, so we can support them.
“We know that, from the last year, parts of the economy can restart successfully and that people are capable of being sensible, social distancing and showing respect for others around them and we can only encourage the public to follow the measures that businesses put in place.”
Covid Compliant Assurance Scheme
More than 50 pubs, restaurants and cafes have already signed up to the council’s Covid Compliant Assurance Scheme, joining the likes of bakery chain Greggs and Arriva buses in demonstrating to customers that they have taken all the necessary steps to keep them as safe as they can.
‘Giving visitors the confidence to come into the city’
Ian Thomas, director of leisure tourism and research at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “As we approach the next milestone of April 12 it is fantastic to see so many businesses will now be able to offer customers the opportunity to meet with the friends and family they have been missing during lockdown, in outside spaces.
“We have all missed the city at its vibrant best and this is the next step on the journey back to that point.
“It is also great to see that businesses are now signing up to the Newcastle Covid Compliant Assurance Scheme, which builds on the reassurance given by the We’re Good to Go scheme, giving visitors the confidence they need to come into the city.
“Our latest research shows that almost 70 percent of North East residents want to venture out as soon as restrictions are lifted, and the combination of outside space and reassurance schemes will further encourage people to get back into our great city.”
Pavement cafe space for all year round
Also, to support the new pavement licenses, business improvement district NE1, working with the city council and the North of Tyne Combined Authority, earlier this year offered grants of between £500 and £2,000 towards them, with a particular focus on making the spaces usable all year round.
The equipment bought with that could include new electric heaters, as all of the 45 new pavement licenses areas – as well as being smoke free – have a requirement not to use gas powered heaters, which are bad for the environment and contrary to Newcastle’s net zero ambitions.
‘A transformational effect’
Stephen Patterson, director of communications at NE1 Ltd said: “Newcastle is world famous for its leisure and hospitality offer and it is exciting that we will soon be able to welcome people back into the city and into its restaurants and bars.
“Throughout lockdown, the council together with NE1 and hospitality businesses across the city have worked hard to make business premises as Covid safe as possible, expanding outdoor areas where they already exist, as well as creating new ones.
“This has been very much a ‘one city’ approach, with the city’s businesses and the city council coming together and working hand in glove to make this happen.
“Enabling more of Newcastle city centre to cater for al fresco dining, drinking and other cultural activities will have a transformational effect allowing people to return and to enjoy the city safely whatever the weather.
“More than anything, our businesses are looking forward to opening their doors once again and welcoming customers back.
“It’s been a long year and we are delighted to see the city begin to reopen, business begin trading and people to start enjoying themselves once again.”