No, I was not on vacation (I wish). I had been out for a cheeky drink after work on the bustling Greek Street, which was transformed this year as some of Leeds’ best bars and restaurants spilled onto the newly pedestrianized street.
Those extra seats in the fresh air have been a lifeline for venues for the past 18 months – not just in my favorite spot, but across town.
Faced with social distancing requirements and the 1-meter plus rule, these measures primarily concerned the survival of businesses, whose internal capacity had been reduced to an unsustainable number.
But even now, as restrictions have eased, demand for al fresco dining has not abated, especially during that glorious September heat.
The streets are full of people dining and drinking outside, enjoying the welcome sunshine, and street food markets have found a permanent home in Leeds.
The brands have appeared in some of the city’s finest grounds, revitalizing historic tourist spots, and Grade II listed pubs have been able to install additional seating without the usual restrictions.
And that was only possible because of temporary Authorized Development Rights (RDPs) measures to allow sites to use outdoor spaces during the pandemic.
The once long and tedious process of allowing businesses to spill onto sidewalks and patios has been made more accessible, and there are now plans to make these temporary measures permanent.
The public is invited to comment on two reform proposals – the first to permanently allow local councils to hold outdoor markets for an unlimited number of days, and the second to allow movable structures such as marquees and seats. additional land on classified sites. buildings.
It is vital that these plans are implemented.
Companies are not out of the woods yet. There is a long climb ahead to return pre-Covid income and sadly not all are out of the pandemic.
The transformation of outdoor spaces in Leeds has been a positive step out of the pandemic, among a seemingly endless list of negatives.
And if these reforms are passed, the boost to the hospitality and tourism sectors in Leeds will allow this transformation to continue for many summers to come.
Long can continue in the open air.
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