Harrogate restaurants and pubs could be allowed outdoor seating on Stray in summer
Harrogate pubs, cafes and restaurants with little or no room for outdoor seating could be given permission to use the Stray in summer.
The parkland is managed by Harrogate Borough Council but owned by the Duchy of Lancaster and talks have begun over the idea which could see businesses given space to set up tables and chairs for outdoor service.
A report to a cabinet meeting on Wednesday said the move would benefit businesses which are unable to apply for pavement licenses - where seating is allowed on footpaths - because they do not have the space.
It said: "Consideration is being given as to whether it is possible to use limited parts of the Stray in the summer months where, due to the location, pavement licences or alternative locations are not logistically possible.
"To support any decision being taken on this matter, the intention is to conduct a consultation exercise to ascertain the extent of interest in using the Stray for this purpose and any potential views on this locally.
"We are currently awaiting feedback from the Duchy on the proposed approach, prior to starting the consultation."
A small number of businesses were given permission to use parts of the Stray under the temporary pavement licences last summer.
And with just over two weeks to go until all hospitality businesses are allowed to reopen for outdoor service, Sara Ferguson, chair of Harrogate BID (Business Improvement District), has questioned why the discussions between the council and Duchy have not yet reached an agreement.
She said: “Last summer, and to help those hospitality businesses without a beer garden, the council issued pavement licenses, which included a number of venues being able to use Stray land.
“We hope these same businesses will be allowed to utilise these spaces again, at least until indoor hospitality can resume, and social distancing measures are removed.
“But with reopening only a matter of a few weeks away, why is this only being looked into now? Jobs and livelihoods are on the line, and this needs to be resolved as a matter of urgency.”
Under the government's roadmap out of lockdown, hospitality businesses will be allowed to reopen for outdoor service only on 12 April when customers can meet in a group of up to six people from different households or any number from two households.
Then, on 17 May, hospitality businesses will be able to seat customers indoors with the same household rules, while groups seated outside must be smaller than 30 people.
The final date in the roadmap is 21 June when all restrictions are due to be lifted with nightclubs allowed to re-open.
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter