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Outdoor seating grants to help local hospitality businesses

Published on Monday, April 19, 2021

Picture shows outdoor seating at Prana cafe in Leicester

CAFES and restaurants in Leicester can apply for grants of up to £4,000 from the city council to buy outdoor furniture.

The grants – which have been set up to help businesses operate safely as they begin to reopen – are part of Leicester’s city-wide recovery plan, aimed at supporting the local economy through the coronavirus pandemic.

They can be used to buy appropriate furniture and outdoor goods to allow businesses to make the most of outdoor trading spaces and comply with social distancing requirements.

The grants scheme has just reopened, having already given out nearly £150,000 (£146,854) to 72 businesses to help them to buy outdoor furniture.

To be eligible, traders must be:

  • Hospitality businesses which pay business rates to Leicester City Council or receive small business rates relief;
  • Defined by the Companies Act as a micro or small business, so not chains or multinational groups;
  • Providing an established table service food offer; and
  • Holders of an approved street café licence, or applying for a new temporary licence.

Assistant city mayor for neighbourhoods Cllr Kirk Master said: “We want to make this process as simple as possible, so that decisions can be made quickly and funds can be transferred to businesses without delay.

“Hospitality businesses have had such a tough time and deserve our support, especially smaller, local businesses. We hope these grants will provide an important first step towards getting our local economy back on track.”

Applicants will receive a confirmation email once they have applied, before their application is checked for completeness and eligibility. Checks will also be made to ensure compliance in areas such as food safety.

The city council has expanded the pavement space available to businesses and pedestrians in key shopping and leisure areas including Queens Road and Braunstone Gate, to allow for more trading outdoors while also providing space for social distancing.

Dedicated ‘pop-up’ cycle lanes have been segregated from roads in areas including Granby Street, to help cyclists feel safer as they travel. Large planters and plant screening are being added to street scenes to make them more attractive.

Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke said: “We know that more people have chosen to walk and cycle during the coronavirus pandemic, and we want to make it as easy as possible for them to continue these healthy and environmentally beneficial habits. We also want to support businesses to recover by making it easy for them to serve customers outdoors, providing space for them to do so.

“These new street scenes, combined with more pavement seating, will help transform our city streets from busy thoroughfares to places where it is pleasant to stop, meet and socialise.”

Andie and Sukh Johal, directors of Prana Café in the city centre, benefitted from a grant from the city council.

“This has greatly helped our business,” says Sukh. “Our new outdoor seating area cost £7,000 in total, with the council grant covering £4,000.

“We have a capacity of 30 and it’s been full at lunchtimes. We have been helped by some beautiful weather and our location next to Town Hall Square, overlooking the fountain.”

Andie added: “The application process was very simple and staff are on hand to help you if required.”

Businesses are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, as demand is expected to be high. Apply online at www.leicester.gov.uk/streetcafegrants

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Picture shows outdoor seating at Prana cafe in Leicester