‘We don’t live in Spain’ - noise concerns over new al-fresco dining policies
- Credit: Archant
City eateries will be free to use outdoor space for al-fresco dining and drinking in a bid to boost businesses following the impact of the coronavirus lockdown.
Social distancing measures mean bars and restaurants are having to maximise outdoor seating in line with government guidance to limit the spread of the virus.
And Norwich councillors have agreed to introduce new policies to make it quicker and cheaper for firms to get permission to do so.
But concerns were raised ahead of a meeting of the city council’s licensing committee over a rise in noise complaints and the impact on residents during the summer.
In a letter to the committee, Danny Douglas, Labour member for city centre Mancroft ward, said: “The reality of our residents’ lives in the city is not of swanky loft conversions, but the working poor crowded into poor housing which is not sound proofed to modern build standard.”
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During the meeting, held on Wednesday, August 5, Ben Price, Green councillor, said: “One of the issues residents often raise with me is noise and nuisance from the night-time economy. We do need to support businesses, but we need to be cautious in this.
“We will have older people and residents with young children who will have their windows open during the hot summer evenings and we are potentially generating lots of additional disturbance.”
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While Green member Lesley Grahame added: “If we have a lot of places put patio heaters out, we’re going to have a lot of problems with heat and carbon.”
But Mr Price said: “We don’t live in continental Spain. The ability for people to sit out in the colder months will be denigrated - we need some form of heat.”
And Labour councillor Laura McCartney-Gray added: “That could exclude people with some forms of disability from actually being able to enjoy being outside.”
The committee agreed the new tables and chairs policy - which will see applications streamlined and the public consulted on new outdoor bids for just seven days.
Fees will be lowered and capped at just £100 and the temporary licences will automatically expire in September 2021.
However, councillors agreed premises must have packed away all street furniture by 10.30pm on weekdays and 11pm on weekends, as well as restricting patio heater use to between October and March.
Licences may also be rescinded if neighbours or councillors raise complaints about noise levels.