CONTINENTAL pavement cafe culture in York looks set to stay with a temporary licence extension.

City of York Council has given street cafes in the city the go-ahead to continue operating for another year, as part of the government’s national response to the pandemic.

But businesses are being reminded that they must still apply for a license under the Business and Planning Act, which was due to end this month, after the government extended the Act until 30 September 2022.

And there's a deadline, any businesses which wish to apply for an extension must apply to City of York Council by October 7.

The council has contacted all businesses which hold a current licence to notify them of this deadline.

The council’s executive considered the extension as part of the Recovery and Renewal update on August 26.

As part of this work, it has been agreed to extend the current footstreets arrangements, due to expire September 2021, whilst also continuing with what is the most extensive review of accessibility in the city centre since the pedestrianised areas were introduced in the 1980s.

The outcome of this review will be shared throughout October ahead of an Executive meeting in November. This will inform the future of pavement cafés in some of the footstreets location which have been subject to temporary arrangements throughout the pandemic.

Councillor Andrew Waller, executive member for the economy and strategic planning, said: “The pavement café licences have been an important way to help businesses to keep running through these difficult times with restrictions on numbers, and responding to continuing caution that many people are still applying.

"Many local and independent businesses have needed the additional outdoor seating but in a city centre with so many narrow streets, and other demands on space, it has needed some working through.

“We need to stress that the extension is not automatic – so I would encourage any interested businesses to make sure that they have applied before October 7.”

Councillor Andy D’Agorne, executive member for transport, said: “We’re really pleased that we will be able to continue supporting the viability of businesses that wish to extend their licences and continue operating street cafes, which have become a really important part of our city’s culture.

“We also understand how important a decision the council has to make over the permanent footstreets arrangement in November. This extension of the legislation does not affect the timing or nature of that decision.

“We will continue to work with licence holders and take action to make sure the pavement furniture meets accessibility standards.

“This includes keeping furniture within the agreed areas and times, and making sure they are marked with barriers including a tap rail to allow blind and partially sighted residents to navigate around them.”

Andrew Lowson, executive director of York BID, said: "The BID has spoken to many businesses in the city centre about the positive impact the street café licenses have had. The public too have embraced the café culture and it has been a welcome sight this summer to see our streets bustling with residents and visitors, enjoying the ambience and York’s hospitality offer.

"We’ll support the council to remind businesses in the city centre that they will need to apply if they want to keep their licence for another year."

The temporary extension will allow the pavement cafés to continue, with a further decision on the long-term future of the footstreets to be considered in November.

At August’s meeting, the Executive also agreed to invest in more dropped kerbs, and offer an extra £10,000 grant each to the Shopmobility and Dial a ride services.

This review will see emerging ideas to improve access for all, shared with affected groups including disabled residents, blue badge holders, city centre traders, taxis, couriers and cycling groups throughout October.

A decision on the long-term operation of the footstreets and further access improvements will be made in November, when the results of the consultations and cross-party engagement can be properly reviewed.