Fees likely for alfresco dining

By Sophie Ryan

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Outdoor dining is under scrutiny as the Whangarei District Council (WDC) moves to impose annual fees for cafes, restaurants and bars.

Currently, there is a site by site agreement between the council and applicants. This is being changed in favour of an application process which would create alfresco dining areas consistent throughout the district.

As part of the new policy, business owners will enter a "License to Occupy Agreement" with the council, which has strict rules, such as the amount of footpath the business owner can take up, what type of furniture can be used and proximity to the business.

Hospitality New Zealand Northland branch president Phil Sentch said managing alfresco dining with an annual fee was fair.

He said the amount of work council staff put in with maintenance made an annual fee appropriate. He said, however, he would like to see how the fee is calculated.

Mr Sentch said alfresco dining was important to Whangarei, especially in the summer months.

WDC made more than 20 changes to the original proposal since the policy was first drafted in October 2012, after many submissions were made by members of the public.

Environmental trends analyst for WDC Sonya Seutter said in the policy that "alfresco dining is an important ingredient in creating more vibrant commercial areas and should be actively encouraged in appropriate locations".

The fee has yet to be decided and the policy will be discussed at the district living committee meeting tomorrow.

- Northern Advocate

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