Bid to allow Felixstowe seafront al fresco dining again this summer
- Credit: Archant
Al fresco dining on Felixstowe seafront looks set to continue this summer - and could become a permanent attraction.
Five bars and restaurants in Undercliff Road West were last summer given the go-ahead to set up tables and chairs for customers on the lawns between the road and promenade to help businesses as the resort reopened after the Covid-19 lockdown.
The project under temporary "spill out" regulations to keep people socially-distanced and allow venues to make the most of the excellent summer weather was a huge success, bringing new business to the traders and town.
Now landowner East Suffolk Council has submitted an application for temporary change of use for one year to allow the businesses at the bottom of Bent Hill to use the open space again for the next year.
Tellingly, the council says in its application - which will be decided by its own councillors - that the consent would be temporary while officers prepare a further application for planning and ground works, which suggests longer term proposals for the site.
A survey on last year's venture attracted more than 1,000 responses with “very positive” feedback.
Felixstowe Town Council, which gave its backing to the project, was told though that there had been some complaints but talks with all parties and particularly the businesses most keen to use the facility again - including Steak Lobster and Co, The Alex, Little Ice Cream Company and the One29 Bar - would take place over winter to try to overcome concerns.
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A report prepared for the High Streets Task Force said: "East Suffolk Council adopted a permissive approach to support seafront businesses – cafes and restaurants – as they reopened for business, acknowledging the continued challenges faced by the hospitality sector in social distancing and need to cater for the increased influx of visitors as lockdown restrictions were relaxed.
"Cafes and restaurants have been permitted to ‘spill out’ on to public green spaces along the seafront and promenade.
"Whilst the objective was to support a Covid recovery it has injected a very different feel to the seafront.
"A survey with over 1,000 responses confirmed that the 97% were in favour of the change, and businesses have reported the permissive approach had an immediate and positive impact on their recovery."
Felixstowe mayor Mark Jepson told town councillors the spill out had been “hugely successful” and the businesses had been “very responsible” and “the vast majority of attendees were very sensible”.