York goes continental! A marquee next to the Minster and pavement cafés planned across the city

How York is hoping to look. Photograph: Olga Popovych / Unsplash

Pavement cafés and stalls could be placed in Museum Gardens, Exhibition Square outside the art gallery and St Helen’s Square, in a bid to create a family-friendly atmosphere and boost businesses.

York BID (Business Improvement District) already has plans to put up a marquee on College Green, next to York Minster, where restaurants, cafes and shops can trade from the end of next week.

It is hoped the plans could give the city a family-friendly “European-feel”.

A council report says pavement cafés could go on parts of

  • Castle Car Park
  • King’s Square
  • Duncombe Place
  • Exhibition Square
  • Parliament Street
  • St Sampson’s Square, and
  • St Mary’s Square within the Coppergate Centre.

And Museum Gardens, which is run by York Museums Trust rather than the council, is also being considered as a possible venue for outdoor cafes and stalls.

Family friendly

Museum Gardens. Photograph: Richard McDougall

A spokesperson said: “We’re especially interested in working with partners or businesses to create a socially distanced yet family friendly atmosphere which enhances the gardens as a beautiful green space for everyone to safely enjoy.

“York Museums Trust are keen to support the city’s recovery plans and are in ongoing discussions with partners about how York Museum Gardens could be used as part of this process.”

York BID will set up a marquee for businesses to use on College Green – which is expected to open on Friday, July 24.

A spokesperson said: “The BID have been working with groups of businesses to understand how the use of public outdoor space can help their business to cope with capacity limitations brought about by social distancing.

“We are in the advanced stages of planning a shared covered space on College Green with tables and chairs to help the businesses in the immediate area.”

City of York Council has agreed to make it easier for businesses to apply for a temporary three-month pavement licence when national rules change.

This could mean that cafes and restaurants on pedestrianised streets – including newly pedestrianised Fossgate, Blake Street and Goodramgate – could put out tables and chairs during the day and early evening.

The council’s director of public health says the pavement cafe licences will need to be non-smoking and non-vaping areas, to protect people from passive smoking.

Embrace a European-feel

A marquee is going up on College Green in York. Photograph: YorkMix

Ian Floyd, temporary chief executive, told a meeting he hopes to make the city more inviting for families – particularly in the early evening.

The pedestrian zone hours are set to be extended until 8pm.

Speaking at a virtual council question and answer session, Mr Floyd said: “One of the things we would like to create is a more family friendly atmosphere and embrace a European-feel.

“I think the last few weeks have shown there is potential to do that.

“Before the current crisis we were looking at how we could encourage businesses to extend that time, because certainly it’s something that has been raised previously in terms of families coming to the city and in that period of time in the early evening they feel things are not open.

“Clearly we can’t force places to open but we absolutely do want to create that culture where families feel safe.”

Shop local, relax and eat

The move is part of plans to give businesses space to trade while maintaining social distancing rules.

Cllr Andrew Waller added: “We want to encourage people and families to visit the city centre, shop local, relax and eat.

“We have already responded to business-led requests at Fossgate to create space for outdoor seating and are actively working with other businesses at Kings Square, Micklegate, Castlegate and College Green to explore options.

“We have also streamlined the pavement café licence process to allow a decision on new applications within five working days.”

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