Bradford has seen a boom in its outside hospitality thanks to more people opting to forgo sitting indoors due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Outdoor café culture is being rolled out across the Bradford district with Bradford Council approving over 90 requests for pavement licences for alfresco seating areas, more than anywhere else in Yorkshire according to data collected by PwC.
It is part of a wide-ranging programme of support put in place by the Council including pavement extensions being put in to create more safe outside space and over £130,000 in outdoor trading grants being awarded to help businesses buy outdoor furniture to make the most of their open-air spaces.
The Council is also investing £200,000 of Gainshare Funding from West Yorkshire Combined Authority, to develop creative cultural initiatives aimed at bringing life back to local high streets and supporting the district’s bid to be Capital of Culture in 2025.
The analysis by PwC, which have offices in Bradford, shows nationwide, more than 3,300 fast-track applications for Pavement Licences were lodged by businesses looking to expand their outdoor trading spaces, with over 1,000 being granted in England.
The Bradford district came out top in the Yorkshire and Humber region with the most being granted by the local council to businesses, especially those in the hospitality trade, looking to tap into the demand for outdoor seating.
Businesses taking advantage of the Pavement Licences in the Bradford district include pubs and bars, restaurants, cafes and coffee shops as well as fish and chip shops and bakeries.
Zelf Hussain, retail restructuring partner at PwC, said: “The take-up of these pavement licences shows that for all forms of hospitality businesses, just how much effort they are making to keep going and how every penny counts, especially in times of financial stress.
“The last social distancing restrictions are lifting, but we’ve seen businesses encouraging customers to keep using their outdoor spaces. Some customers still feel more comfortable being outside, especially during the summer months, helping to allay any lingering concerns about meeting indoors.”
Bradford Council’s Highways staff have also been working with local businesses across the district to liaise with business owners, assess sites, carry out public consultations, review security arrangements.
Funding was also secured for footpath extensions in key locations so that cafés, bars and restaurants can provide more outdoor space for alfresco seating or queuing and pedestrians can still use the pavements safely.
Initially, this was especially important in helping to keep people safe through the height of the pandemic by allowing for social distancing, now those restrictions have eased the extensions are helping to increase the flow of footfall and bringing much needed extra trade for these businesses.
To help the district’s hospitality businesses Bradford Council also offered a grant of up to £1,500 to support businesses to invest in outdoor furniture and equipment to adapt and improve the customer experience while continuing to trade outdoors.
The Outdoor Trading Grants were offered as part of the council’s Additional Restrictions Grant funding from the Government. Over 112 grants have already been awarded over £130,000 already distributed and a further 100 businesses are due to receive these grants shortly.
Since the first lockdown in March last year, the council has paid out over £220million in Covid-19 grants to businesses impacted by the government’s restrictions.
The Cultural and Economic Development teams within Bradford Council have drawn on their different areas of expertise to work together to invest £200,000 of Gainshare Funding to develop creative cultural initiatives and test out new projects that help bring life back to our high streets.
The initiatives to come out of this collaborative work will be aimed at engaging businesses and local communities in the culture-led economic recovery to attract footfall and trade to high streets and town centres.
Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, Alex Ross-Shaw, said: “It’s really good we’ve been able to facilitate businesses adapting to a new way of operating as the economy re-opens. Many of these changes will be here to stay and benefit businesses and customers for years to come.
“Our officers have been working really hard to process these pavement licences, as well as all the different grants that have become available to get this money out to our businesses as quickly as they can to support the district’s economic recovery.
“The collaborative work of our Economy and Cultural teams is another great example of ways that we are looking to invest in and to re-energise and reinvigorate our high streets and city and town centres while support the district’s bid to be City of Culture in 2025.”