Outdoor seating might be detering visitors from Dorchester

Outdoor seating might be detering visitors from Dorchester

Published by George Sharpe at 12:01am 1st August 2020.

Outdoor seating in Dorchester may be having the opposite effect in attracting visitors, according to some town councillors.

Complaints have been received that the tables and chairs spread out across part of the street, especially at Cornhill, are forcing pedestrians too close to each other for comfort.

Dorchester town councillors heard that there had been people who claimed they were now put off coming into the town’s main shopping area because of the reduced space.

Concerns had also been expressed about whether emergency vehicles could get through some sections of the street in an emergency, particularly in the lower section of South Street where the road narrows.

Coronavirus Dorchester

Cllr Susie Hosford said that tables outside at the top end of the street had created a potential bottleneck :

“It does make it difficult to social distance…it’s creating a barrier as you go into the street,” she told a meeting of the town council.

“Anything which makes people reluctant is not a good idea,” she added.

Mayor Richard Biggs said one person had commented to him that the seating and tables in the evening, together with music, was like having a nightclub, only outside.

He suggested that a review of the situation be carried out and appropriate changes suggested, if needed.

The new rules, to encourage outdoor seating, have come about through Government legislation which came into effect in the Business and Planning Bill in early July.

Its provisions include lowering the cost of a pavement and street café licence to no more than £100 with the consultation period reduced from 28 days to five. If councils fail to make a decision within 10 working days the application is automatically approved.

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter