Although people have embraced York’s pavement cafés, they can’t yet become a permanent part of the city’s offer.
Legal and access challenges mean that many of the outdoor eating and drinking areas which sprung up after Covid cannot continue indefinitely.
And the extended footstreets hours will also finish at the end of the summer.
Those are the key messages from a report going to the executive meeting of City of York Council next Thursday (28 July).
York’s many new pavement cafes sprung up thanks to the fast-track licensing system brought in to allow people to socialise outdoors during the pandemic restrictions.
This system will lapse in September, and no one knows what the government will put in its place.
Meanwhile, there are ongoing problems over access caused by the outdoor cafés. Disabled people in particular have found their routes blocked by tables and chairs.
According to York council, pavement cafés “remain an important part of the city centre economy” but “the current historic infrastructure in the city centre is not ready to accommodate pavement cafes in every location”.
The council proposes to revert the footstreet hours back to 10.30am to 5pm from October, instead of the current end time of 7pm.
And they want to draw up new guidance for pavement cafés based on a consultation with relevant businesses and disabled residents.
Executive member for economy and strategic planning Cllr Ashley Mason said: “We remain committed to the long-term vision of the city centre, with outdoor cafe culture playing a part in the success of our economy, but the current city centre infrastructure is not yet ready for this vision to become a reality.
“As we enter the post-covid period we must revaluate and take away the lessons learned to support the city centre and businesses in the long term.”
Meanwhile plans to improve city centre access will be discussed at the meeting. These include:
- appointing an access specialist
- more dropped kerbs
- extra blue badge parking bays, and
- a shuttle bus service.
Executive member for transport Cllr Andy D’Agorne said he welcomed the plans.
“It’s key that the delivery of this work is overseen by an access specialist who will be able to help us to work through York’s historic, transport and access challenges.”
The report will go to executive for approval on Thursday 28 July from 5.30pm – full details here.