Rules to change to encourage Alfresco dining

To date anyone considering putting some tables out the front of their cafe for outdoor patrons has seen red tape, paper work and high fees. In the Eurobodalla you need to jump through the hoops to gain approval to use a footpath for restaurant purposes, such as for alfresco dining. An alfresco dining area is an outside eating area adjoining a shop, cafe or restaurant where tables, chairs and other structures are provided for use by patrons while they are consuming food or drinks. In order to obtain a licence you first need to provide details such as the location and any relevant development or construction consents. Then you need to pay $174.00 as an establishment fee and an annual $65.00 Licence fee. ( Fees for 2021-22) With these fees comes the following:

If you can pass muster on the above you will need to put into place the rules as described in 5.1 of Council's Footpath Trading Guidelines With very poor town planning choices in the past there is minimal scope presently to expand on our existing alfresco areas however there is hope at hand. Alfresco Restart Package to help drive economic and social recovery over summer

As State reopens, the NSW Government say that they are now committed to supporting local councils to drive locally-led economic and social recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. "That’s why we are helping to bring the streets of NSW back to life with a raft of initiatives and funding to see the return of alfresco dining, live music and entertainment to our local communities," says Shelly Hancock, Minister for Local Government. "The Government today announced the Alfresco Restart Package to provide additional, improved and activated public space to support community well-being and economic recovery. "This means more room for getting out, meeting friends and helping local businesses, all while keeping our distance and staying outdoors. The initiatives being rolled out from November include:

  • The Festival of Place to revitalise local streets with murals, art installations, laneway cinemas and more to kickstart a 24-hour economy. The festival includes the Long Summer Nights Program, the Streets as Shared Spaces Program, the Summer Night Fund Program, and the Open Streets Program.

  • Changing the outdoor dining planning rules permanently to allow pubs and small bars to implement outdoor dining more easily following a successful trial.

  • Supporting councils and businesses to bounce back by changing the rules for alfresco dining on public and private land.

  • Offering $5,000 grants for hospitality businesses to get their outdoor dining ventures in a park or public space off the ground.

"These initiatives will help generate much-needed social and economic activities in our local communities as part of the Reopening NSW roadmap as vaccination rates increase," the Minister says. Councils are encouraged to identify areas within their towns and cities, such as central business districts and high streets, for outdoor dining and other COVID-safe activations and events, and encourage businesses and communities to get involved. Councils are also urged to examine ways to reduce the time and cost of approving outdoor dining areas. To help speed up the application process, the Government has created an online platform on the planning portal that will allow councils to receive an online lodgement for outdoor dining. The Minister adds "I also encourage councils to apply for funding to help bring their streets to life, supporting local communities and businesses to get back on their feet. Round 2 of the Streets as Shared Spaces Program is offering grants of up to $500,000 for trial projects that test permanent changes that strengthen the amenity, accessibility and economic vitality of a high street and surrounding area. Projects could include trialling reconfiguring the street to create more space for seating, alfresco dining areas and greening. The Summer Night Fund Program is offering grants of up to $15,000 for no-cost, COVID-safe activations or events, in public spaces, in local centres including alfresco dining, outdoor markets, micro-festivals, open-air cinemas, creative lighting shows or galleries open late. The Office of Local Government (OLG) is currently updating guidelines to support councils to increase outdoor dining opportunities in their local communities. OLG will also hold a webinar to brief councils across the State. More information about outdoor dining can be found on the NSW Government and Department of Planning, Industry and Environment websites.