CANOPIES and awning should be exempt from planning as restaurants and bars seek to re-open after lockdown, according to councillors.
Cllr Gobnait Moynihan (FF) raised the motion at a meeting of the local authority recently and said that with Covid-19 restrictions easing business owners are doing all they can to make it as safe as possible for their customers.
‘A lot of people feel more comfortable these days sitting outside rather than inside and this motion is about giving more choice to customers and get them and feeling comfortable while out socialising,’ said Cllr Moynihan.
‘I’ve had a number of businesses onto me horrified to learn that they would have to go for planning to have one outside their premises. They see planning as long and drawn-out.’
Cllr Moynihan said she is looking for an exemption to speed up this process and asked the Council to write to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. She said that the Council already has an exemption for street furniture.
‘The summer is coming to an end and we want to make it last and what I would like is that an exemption for these awnings or canopies could be put in place so these businesses can get people sitting outside as soon as possible.’
Her colleague, Cllr Deirdre Kelly, said they are all aware of the expenses incurred by many businesses as they re-open and she said it is imperative that all supports be given to them.
‘In many instances some businesses have lost seating space inside their premises and in that regard the extra spaces that would be provided by canopies is vital to allow them salvage what’s left of the summer and tourist season,’ said Cllr Kelly.
Cllr Marie O’Sullivan (FG), who runs her own café in Kinsale, said they are all experiencing a ‘new normal’ in doing business and supported the motion. She said the fact that the Council has allowed businesses to operate outside their premises has made a huge difference.
‘As we head into autumn and winter it would make a lot more sense for cafés, bars and restaurants to be able to install canopies outside their premises to combat the inclement weather and also make the outside area safer with a permanent structure,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan.
Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) said this is a great opportunity for architects and the planning department to re-imagine streetscapes in towns and rejuvenate them.