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Chef excluded from al fresco seating plans due to crossing - despite road’s closure

PUBLISHED: 08:41 02 July 2020 | UPDATED: 08:57 03 July 2020

Chef Richard Bainbridge at a table outside his restaurant Benedicts in St Benedicts, where the council have refused  to allow him outside tables due to the zig-zag lines and pedestrian crossing, despite the road soon to be closed to traffic. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Chef Richard Bainbridge at a table outside his restaurant Benedicts in St Benedicts, where the council have refused to allow him outside tables due to the zig-zag lines and pedestrian crossing, despite the road soon to be closed to traffic. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2020

A restaurateur has been left bewildered at being given no outdoor seating space due to a zebra crossing – despite cars being banned on the road.

Chef Richard Bainbridge at the pedestrian crossing near his restaurant Benedicts in St Benedicts, where the council have refused  to allow him outside tables due to the zig-zag lines and crossing, despite the road soon to be closed to traffic. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYChef Richard Bainbridge at the pedestrian crossing near his restaurant Benedicts in St Benedicts, where the council have refused to allow him outside tables due to the zig-zag lines and crossing, despite the road soon to be closed to traffic. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Richard Bainbridge of Benedicts in Norwich’s St Benedicts Street was hoping that he would be assigned some outdoor space to add much-needed covers to his restaurant.

However after it was announced the city centre street would be temporarily pedestrianised, Mr Bainbridge was told he could not have space outside his site due to a zebra crossing.
Norfolk County Council, which is in charge of the plans, has confirmed it is “looking at the option” of extending seating closer to the crossing.

The crossing is not directly outside the family-run businesses’ front door, but seating access has still been denied on account of road markings.

The Great British Menu chef said: “We have the zig-zag markings on the road outside our restaurant, but the road is going to be pedestrianised anyway.

The pedestrian crossing in St Benedicts, where the council have refused to allow tables outside Benedicts restaurant due to the zig-zag lines and crossing, despite the road soon to be closed to traffic. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe pedestrian crossing in St Benedicts, where the council have refused to allow tables outside Benedicts restaurant due to the zig-zag lines and crossing, despite the road soon to be closed to traffic. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“What’s disappointing is that when we pointed this out the officer making the plans hadn’t even visited the road.

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St Benedicts which will soon to be closed to traffic. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSt Benedicts which will soon to be closed to traffic. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“It’s heart-breaking because this has been the life-long dream for chefs like me, and it’s our blood, sweat and tears that goes into it. Then decisions like this - which could be life or death for our business – are made at the highest level from an office.”

Due to the potential loss of customers to other businesses, Mr Bainbridge has said he may delay reopening the venue until September.

Mr Bainbridge added: “It’s not a level playing field because if I was a customer I’d want to sit outside with a beer, not indoors in a restaurant – and that’s me saying it as the owner.

St Benedicts which will soon to be closed to traffic. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSt Benedicts which will soon to be closed to traffic. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“I’m really happy for the other businesses who have got outdoor seating space – we’re all in this together. But if the council says it’s on our side then it actually needs to be.”

A spokesperson for Norfolk County Council said: “We consulted widely on the proposed temporary changes which received overwhelming public support. In our careful consideration of the responses received we need to balance the needs of all businesses, residents and the wider public.”
The spokesman insisted that officers have visited the street, and will review whether the crossing is required in due course.


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