Bus queue congestion fears lead to rethink over Norwich Bella Italia’s bid for outside dining

Bella Italia in Red Lion Street, where permission is sought to place tables and chairs on the paveme

Bella Italia in Red Lion Street, where permission is sought to place tables and chairs on the pavement. Pic: Dan Grimmer. - Credit: Archant

Diners could soon be able to eat outside at a city centre restaurant, but concerns were raised the tables, coupled with people queuing up for buses, could block passers-by.

City councillors will meet on Monday afternoon to decide whether to grant a licence for tables and chairs on the pavement outside Bella Italia, in Red Lion Street.

London-based Casual Dining Services Limited originally sought permission to put six tables and a dozen chairs on the pavement between 8am and 10pm from Monday to Sundays.

However, concerns were raised, including by the city council's own transport planner, that queues from the nearby bus stop, combined with the tables, could block the pavement.

The bus stop outside Barclays Bank serves the number 25 and 26 buses, which go between the city centre and the University of East Anglia.

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St Stephens Street shoe shop Siddalls wrote to the council to say: 'We go to Barclays Bank on a daily basis and often have to negotiate long queues for buses and people using the cash machines. The placing of tables and chairs in this area, as well, will create a further obstacle for pedestrians.'

And Red Lion Street hairdressers John Olivers told City Hall officers the suggestion was 'absurd'. They said: 'As it is, customers and employees complain about the fight to get through numbers of people queuing at the bus stop outside Barclays Bank, queues which sometimes finish up around the corner going up Westlegate.'

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Michelle Bartram, from Norfolk police's licensing regulation team, said: 'The placing of tables and chairs within this area could cause it to be congested. Therefore consideration should be given as to whether this location is appropriate.'

An amended application was then lodged, reducing the number of tables to four, with eight chairs, adding L-shaped barrier and dropping the request to use tables on Sundays.

Timings on other days would also be altered to between 8am until 5pm between October 1 and April 30 and from 8am until 9pm between May 1 and September 30.

Last year, Five Guys abandoned its plans for outdoor tables outside its city centre restaurant after council officers raised concerns that would cause 'unacceptable congestion'.

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