Changes to the Old Town High Street - FAQs
Why are you allowing some businesses to replace parking spaces with seated areas?
Pavement licences are issued to businesses wishing to place tables and chairs on the public highway on the pavement. These licences are granted under the temporary provisions of the Business and Planning Act (2020) by our Environmental Health team. The aim is to support local businesses to recover and provide safe outside seating for customers. We are directed by central government to support this where suitable.
They are currently due to expire in September 2021 although the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has recently confirmed a further year can be applied for.
Does SBC issue all the licences?
No. HCC S115e Licences which are issued under the Highways Act (1980) are issued by Hertfordshire County Council and are time-limited by the provisions of that act. These licences still apply where the applicant wants to place tables and chairs on the carriageway or in parking bays. They also apply where the applicant wants to place more objects on the street than just tables and chairs.
They are issued by County Council which can be contacted at StreetCafeLicences@hertfordshire.gov.uk
Why have you made changes to the space outside Costa Coffee?
The extended footway area was built to provide a pleasant safe public space for pedestrians to rest halfway up the High Street. Works were funded through Hertfordshire County Council from their Emergency Active Travel Fund to support walking in the High Street. This is a highway improvement scheme and considered a permanent change.
Will some of these changes be permanent?
Some hospitality businesses have expressed an interest in permanently converting parking bays to footway in front of their premises to support tables and chairs. Businesses asking for such changes have been advised to seek planning consent in order that any objections can be taken into account before a decision is made.
Where planning consent is granted the applicant will be required to pay for the conversion of the area. These areas will remain part of the highway and any tables and chairs on them will still need to be licensed as set out above. When the tables are removed (whatever time of day that is) the land reverts to public space
Are you planning to pedestrianise the High Street?
There are no plans to pedestrianise the High Street, although the Sustainable Travel Towns work being done between Hertfordshire County Council and Stevenage Borough Council does require us to consider how we prioritise walking, cycling, sustainable transport and public transport and reduce the dominance of petrol/diesel driven motor vehicles. This is to tackle climate change and to reduce the traffic on our roads.
In October 2021, we will be working with residents and businesses on a Local Area Action Plan for the High Street. This plan will be co-produced with all those who have an interest in our High Street. Clearly a key aim of this work will be to ensure the balance is right between preserving our historic High Street, supporting the local economy and providing a safe, clean and sustainable environment which residents can enjoy and in which business can thrive.