An agreement for hospitality businesses to be given outdoor space on the Stray is unlikely to be in place until at least the second half of summer.
Councillor Graham Swift, deputy leader and cabinet member for resources, enterprise and economic development at the council, said it was “probably not possible” for a deal to be struck before all lockdown restrictions end on 21 June.
The idea has been put forward to assist hospitality businesses with social distancing by giving them room for outdoor seating, although councillor Swift said it would only benefit “one or two” bars.
Speaking at a meeting yesterday, he said:
“Some of our licence companies are very keen to see usage of the Stray under controlled licensing conditions and the reality is this will be challenging.
“The Duchy of Lancaster are rightly positive defenders of the space and for us to jump through some of the hoops required around the legal side to allow one or two companies to extend their footprint will probably not be possible before 21 June when the government fully opens lockdown.”
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The Harrogate Stray Act 1985 restricts how the land can be used and includes an annual limit on events.
Need to consult
There is also a requirement for the public to be consulted on some changes and the council said it planned to run a survey on the idea to give businesses space if talks with the Duchy progress.
Councillor Swift added:
“I have some sympathy with the licence companies that would like to flex their space but the reality is there is going to be a considerable opening up of spaces over the next few weeks.
“I hope that people will be able to take off trade and picnic on the Stray and utilise the space as we get more and more conformable with social engagement.”
Under the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, hospitality businesses will be allowed to reopen for outdoor service only on April 12 when customers can meet in a group of up to six people from different households or any number from two households.
Then, on May 17, they will be able to seat customers indoors with the same household rules, while groups seated outside must be smaller than 30 people.
The final date in the roadmap is June 21 when all restrictions are due to be lifted.