GO! Southampton backs hospitality sector with new outdoor dining initiative ‘Southampton Inside Out’

GO! Southampton is working in partnership with Southampton City Council and other stakeholders to create more opportunities for outdoor dining in the city to help support the hospitality sector.

The new joint initiative aims to ensure it is as quick and easy as possible for businesses to introduce new or extended outside seating areas. This is supported by new national legislation passed this week which caps the application fee for a pavement licence at £100. It also reduces the minimum consultation period to five working days and granting or refusing an application within five working days of the consultation period closing.

In line with this new legislation, Southampton City Council is offering a temporary three-month pavement licence for £50, with the option to extend to 12 months for an additional £50. Amendments to existing tables and chairs permits will not incur a fee. These reductions on costs aim make using outdoor spaces for extra trade more financially viable for businesses.

Additionally, to support businesses who may have little or no scope for outdoor seating directly outside their premises, Southampton Inside Out also includes plans to trial the use of designated city centre spaces for extra outdoor trading.

Two initial pilot schemes are currently being progressed; one utilising the historic Canute’s Palace site on Porters Lane; another encompassing parts of Bedford Place and Carlton Place. For the latter scheme, GO! Southampton has consulted with nearby businesses and feedback was largely positive, with some minor adjustments made to the details and footprint of the proposed pilot following feedback.

It is hoped the dual approach of simplifying the process for pavement licence applications and creating new outdoor dining spaces can help to mitigate the commercial impact felt by the city’s hospitality businesses as a result of social distancing requirements.

GO! Southampton has worked with local artists Guy Stauber and writers from Artful Scribe in the creative development behind the scheme including the logo which will be rolled out and tightly aligned to the initiative.

Councillor Steve Leggett, Cabinet Member for Green City & Place at Southampton City Council, said:

“We’re extremely excited about this pilot scheme which will not only allow some of our hospitality businesses to open safely and extend their capacity but will also result in a positive change to the street scene in these pedestrianised areas. This will allow visitors to Southampton to enjoy the summer with extended alfresco dining options and will give pedestrians sufficient space to move around safely in accordance with social distancing guidelines.  

“We’re pleased to be supporting our local hospitality businesses to operate in a Covid-secure way and protecting the safety of people visiting the city centre for hospitality purposes. Pubs, cafes and restaurants are an extremely important part of our local economy which is why we are eager to offer them these licences – where safe – to extend their dining facilities out on to the public highway, not only in the pilot areas but also beyond. We will then continue to work closely with these businesses to ensure ongoing license checks meet standards and that Covid-secure guidance is being followed. We would encourage all businesses who think they could benefit from this licence to apply.”

John Cooney, owner of The Cricketers Arms in Carlton Place and part of the scheme’s working group said:

“I am delighted that Southampton Council and GO! Southampton are taking a proactive approach in the context of what we all know is a very unusual state of affairs. The Southampton Inside Out initiative is most welcome and I am fully behind it.  A fresh, outdoor dimension to dining and socialising is well worth trying in Carlton Place. We appreciate that the safety and wellbeing of residents and clients is of paramount importance and will work with the team to ensure that ventures into this new and exciting area are very well prepared and tightly controlled.”

Fellow working group member, Gary Bennetton, who owns Switch and Orange Rooms in Southampton, commented:

“Southampton Inside Out is a great initiative to help both independent and national operators gain some welcome traction following the devastating effect of Covid-19 on the hospitality trade. By animating and bringing to life underutilised highways we will be actively encouraging people to frequent our great city again, whilst bringing obvious economic benefits to the wider local economy.”

Giles Semper, Executive Director at GO! Southampton said: “We have seen how the Covid-19 pandemic has put huge pressure on hospitality businesses in Southampton, and even though they’re now able to trade again the current social distancing requirements continue to make it commercially challenging. We hope these new spaces will allow customers to move more easily and to enjoy safe, pleasant new dining experiences in the city.

We’re pleased to be working proactively with the council and the wider working group to progress the Southampton Inside Out initiative. This collaborative approach is just the latest example of the city working together to navigate through lockdown and the subsequent reopening phases.”

For more information on #SouthamptonInsideOut, including how to apply for a pavement licence or amend an existing table and chairs licence, visit: www.gosouthampton.co.uk/southamptoninsideout