A new law – which will allow licenced outlets to set up tables and chairs on pavements – must not come at the expense of pedestrians, a charity has warned.
Introduced in Parliament on 25 June, the temporary change to licencing laws aims to help pubs and restaurants operate more effectively within Covid-19 restrictions.
However, Living Streets says pavements should only be considered an option where there is at least two metres of space once the furniture and customers are accounted for.
The charity points to potential problems which could arise for people with wheelchairs, buggies and those living with sight loss – and says it could undo all the ‘great work’ to create more space for people walking during the pandemic.
It adds that car parks and terraces should be the first option explored when creating temporary beer gardens and eating spaces.
Dr Rachel Lee, policy and research manager at Living Streets, said: “Al fresco dining has the potential to bring our streets to life, creating vibrant spaces where people want to spend time.
“However, in areas where space is at a premium, it has the potential to make walking very difficult for so many.
“Many of our footways are too narrow, which became apparent at the start of lockdown when it impacted on people’s ability to practise physical distancing. However, cluttered streets have long been a problem for people with wheelchairs, buggies and those living with sight loss.
“Towns and cities across the country have been using Government investment to trial schemes to create more space for people walking, including widening pavements and closing certain streets to traffic.
“We should not undo all this great work and investment by crowding pavements with tables and chairs at the expense of the people who need to use them.”