PERMISSION has been granted for more al fresco dining on Lyme Regis seafront and in the public gardens this spring.
With restaurants allowed to reopen for outdoor service only from April 12, many local businesses are looking at ways they can improve and increase their outside areas.
This has been supported by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, who has urged councils to “do everything possible to help those businesses reopen safely and prosper again” following the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Jenrick’s plans to help businesses get back on their feet include extending the relaxation of pavement licenses for outdoor dining until September 2022.
Three local businesses have now made applications to use town council land to extend their outside offering.
Seafront restaurant and bar SWIM, which currently has a limited number of outside tables on its verandah, has applied for 10 two-seat tables on Marine Parade below as a temporary measure up until June 21, when all restrictions on social contact are expected to be lifted.
Councillors raised concerns this week that this may make social distancing difficult on the busy seafront, and that additional tables may be an obstruction to emergency and waste disposal vehicles which use Marine Parade, especially at the narrower end to the west of the restaurant.
However, Cllr Michaela Ellis said that, as a council tenant, they should be supporting the business to ensure it can reopen.
“If we say no we could be banging a nail in their coffin,” she added.
Some councillors suggested that SWIM should be allowed up to six tables, but they eventually agreed to the request in principle with the details over table numbers and size left to council officers to finalise.
Relaxed dining in Lister Gardens
A second application from Mark Hix’s Oyster & Fish House in Lister Gardens was approved without concerns.
This will see tables and chairs covered with a sail-type structure set up on a sloped area next to the table tennis in Lister Gardens, below the restaurant’s existing terrace.
Mr Hix has applied for this initially as a temporary measure until June 21, but would then like to discuss using the area on a more permanent basis to serve snacks and drinks in a more relaxed style of dining.
The Red Panda Asian takeaway at Bell Cliff has also applied for two tables and chairs outside its property.
Councillors expressed concerns that this may cause problems with social distancing in a small and busy area of the town, and that the tables may encroach on the outside area already let to the Bell Cliff Restaurant.
However, it was again decided to agree in principal to the request and leave the details to council officers.