Seaside al fresco dining set for approval for this summer
- Credit: GOOGLE STREET VIEW
People look set to be able to enjoy al fresco dining on Felixstowe seafront all summer long this year - with proposals for a "spill out" area set to be approved tomorrow.
Council experts are also looking to make the outdoor eating and drinking attraction permanent and are currently working on a more detailed project including permanent groundworks.
That application will come later this year, but in the meantime East Suffolk Council's south area planning committee is being recommended on May 25 to give the go-ahead to a temporary scheme to allow bars and restaurants on the seafront to use the area for the next year.
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 kept people socially-distanced and allowed venues to make the most of the excellent summer weather and was a huge success, bringing new business to the traders and town.
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A survey on last year's venture attracted more than 1,000 responses with “very positive” feedback.
Now the council as landowner is seeking permission to use the two grassed areas opposite Bent HIll again to help businesses which have suffered financially during the pandemic.
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Planning officers have received 118 letters in support of the project but also five raising concerns relating to anti-social behaviour, noise, litter, vermin infestation and heritage impact.
The council said those in favour of the outdoor area recognised the proposal's "potential to benefit the local economy, as well as support the long-term vitality of adjacent hospitality businesses and the wider resort during a period of unforeseen economic downturn resulting from the global pandemic".
It added: "Supporters also recognise the proposal's positive benefit for public health and wellbeing from increased opportunities to socialise safely in-light of current social distancing restrictions."
Open-air dining and drinking would take place from 9am to 11pm for patrons of adjacent restaurants, cafes and bars (including The Alex, Bar One 29, The Cork and Steak Lobster & Co). Chairs, tables and parasols would be removed at night for security purposes while businesses are closed.
Planning case officer Grant Heal said: "While it is appreciated that the proposal would effectively increase seating capacity and, as a result, the potential for increased noise, it is otherwise considered that the increased distance and separation between the site and neighbouring residential properties could provide a suitable buffer towards mitigating any perceived increase in noise that may arise.
"As licence holders, the hospitality businesses, whose patrons would occupy the site during its use, would also be responsible for upholding a duty care towards managing any excess noise and antisocial behaviour. It is also the responsibly of the license holders to ensure that the site is kept in a clean and tidy state.
"Nevertheless, suitably worded planning conditions could also be used to ensure appropriate conduct is enforceable."