Could al fresco shopping and dining areas be set up in Weston town centre?

The Italian Gardens could be used as an outdoor trading space. Picture: Mark Atherton

The Italian Gardens could be used as an outdoor trading space. Picture: Mark Atherton - Credit: Archant

Al fresco shopping and dining could soon be widespread in Weston as part of plans to help businesses weather the coronavirus crisis.

The Italian Gardens has previously hosted Eat Weston food festival. Picture: Nick Page Hayman

The Italian Gardens has previously hosted Eat Weston food festival. Picture: Nick Page Hayman - Credit: Nick Page. Hayman.

North Somerset Council’s executive member for business, economy and employment Mark Canniford said the council is drawing up plans to create a ‘much more outdoor society’ but it will not allow a ‘free-for-all’.

Some parking spaces have already been removed and pavements widened in Weston town centre to create space for social distancing when people are queuing to get into businesses.

Speaking during a Facebook Live webcast with his executive colleagues on June 11, councillor Canniford said: “Outside space is one of the opportunities we’re going to have for the next six to 12 months.

“We’re working hard on plans to create outside space for trading, eating halls, so we can get activities going on in a more open environment. Most businesses aren’t going to have enough room inside with social distancing requirements.”


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Businesses need to apply for permission to trade in the street or place tables and chairs on public land.

Asked if the council would scrap the need for licences during the lockdown, councillor Canniford added: “We can’t have a free-for-all. Businesses don’t want to see a scenario where businesses a few metres down the road put tables and chairs outside someone else’s business.

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“There has to be some sort of control. In return we’d expect good standards.

“A good-looking environment is really important. It’s about quality, not just how we do it.

“We want to make sure the environment we’re left with is a really good one.”

The Weston Collective has hosted a series of pop-up events to support independent businesses but the lockdown put a brake on its plans.

Founder of The Weston Collective, Jane Main, said: “There’s a really keen desire from traders to have a market in the Italian Gardens. We have a lot of open spaces, it’s a shame we don’t utilise them more.

“I used to live close to the Greenwich and Borough markets, which sell food from all over London. I think there’s a real desire to have something like that in Weston.

“We’d do it now if we were given the green light to do it. I’m pleased the council is open to ideas and willing to listen.”

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