City hospitality sector boosted with free ‘al fresco’ dining licences

Square Mile pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants are gearing up for a summer of ‘al fresco’ dining, after the City of London Corporation agreed to offer free pavement licences to hospitality businesses.

The organisation’s Planning and Transportation Committee today voted to extend its Al Fresco Eating and Drinking Policy, meaning businesses can apply, free of charge, for a licence to seat customers outside until September 2023.

The policy has proved popular with Square Mile establishments and there are currently 142 live licences, all of which are expected to reapply.

The City Corporation recently announced its new flagship policy – Destination City – which will transform the Square Mile’s leisure offer, creating a leading destination for UK and international visitors, workers, and residents to enjoy.

With a £2.5 million annual investment from the City Corporation, ‘Destination City’ will drive the Square Mile’s recovery from the pandemic and deliver an exciting events programme, including outdoor festivals featuring music, art, education, sport, and wellness. The first of three major events is planned for this autumn.

By streamlining the application process and offering pavement licenses for free, the City Corporation aims to boost the hospitality industry, supporting business recovery and ensuring the Square Mile has a vibrant leisure offer.

Chairman of the City Corporation’s Planning and Transportation Committee, Shravan Joshi, said:

“Offering free licenses for outdoor dining has been a transformational policy in the Square Mile.

“It’s great to see workers, visitors and residents dining ‘al fresco’ enjoying the vibrant atmosphere, akin to the continental experience, especially in this hot weather.

“Our streets must remain safe and accessible for all, so measures are in place to ensure we meet the needs of people with disabilities and avoid overcrowding.”

Chairman of the City Corporation’s Licensing Committee, James Tumbridge, said:

“Outdoor dining has brought a vibrancy to the City not seen before.

“As footfall continues to rise post-pandemic, ‘al fresco’ dining is bringing the buzz back into the City as visitors, workers and residents enjoy the sunshine and the wealth of dining options we have to offer.

“Extending the free licences is part our support for businesses post-pandemic. The recent past was a challenge now we hope to see them thrive and grow.”

Safety and accessibility remain a top priority. The City Corporation will continue to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities, the available space on the pavement, levels pedestrian footfall and other factors are all considered when deciding applications for pavement licenses.

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