Remove rules that block cafe culture

CONFUSING planning procedures and town centre traffic issues are making Kettering less attractive for cafe businesses, a council fears.

In a new report, Kettering Council has outlined its vision for a cafe culture with streets full of people eating or drinking outdoors in the town centre.

But the council has admitted that the confusing three-stage planning application for businesses to put chairs and tables outside, including getting a pavement license, is off-putting.

There are also concerns about the volume of traffic on Lower Street and Gold Street.

Town centre regeneration programme manager Paul Thomas said: “Having chairs and tables outside is a massive selling point not only for potential businesses but existing ones who want to expand.

“The county council need to ensure that, by allowing tables and chairs outside premises in the town centre, pedestrians are not put at risk from passing vehicles.

“This, of course, comes back to the issue of the amount of traffic that currently uses Gold Street, High Street and Lower Street.”

The report reveals officials are working on simplifying the planning procedure, which includes getting licensing and planning approval from Kettering Council, and a pavement licence from the county council.

Costa Coffee in Kettering had looked to add an outdoor area to its cafe, but its management have found a sticking point with the extent of traffic on the street.

Costa’s Northamptonshire franchisee Hoosein Dadabhoy, said: “We’ve been frustrated because I think an extension will really foster a cafe culture.”