STREET food stalls and outdoor cafes could be used to try and attract more people into Accrington town centre.
Hyndburn Council is looking to capitalise on improved performance in some high streets driven by street food and markets.
The policy has been drawn up after cabinet members voted in 2018 to introduce a new framework that will encourage outdoor food and drink establishments in Accrington town centre.
The three main areas considered to be potential venues for pavement cafes/restaurants are the town square, Blackburn Road and Broadway.
Senior councillors in Hyndburn will now vote on whether to adopt a policy seeking to control the licensing of pavement cafes.
Under the proposed new policy, expected to be approved when the council’s cabinet meets next week, anyone wishing to obtain a street café licence would have to pay £125 to apply for one.
Bosses say it would help make sure cafes with outdoor seating enhance the area and don’t cause a hazard to pedestrians.
Borough licensing manager, Wendy Redfern, said: “Alfresco eating is becoming a more widespread aspect of urban life and the presence of tables and chairs on the pavement can make a positive contribution by adding vitality, colour, life and interest to an area.
“Hyndburn Council supports and encourages the provision of pavement cafes in the area as they can help maximise the use of public spaces, aid the local economy and add to the facilities offered to people who visit, live, and work in Hyndburn.
“Whilst the council wishes to encourage pavement cafes, it is important that they are properly located and managed.
“This is to ensure that they meet the standards we expect in Hyndburn and that they do not obstruct the highway nor create a hazard for pedestrians, especially for blind, partially sighted and other disabled people.
“The area to be used must take into account other needs in the immediate vicinity e.g. kerbside parking, bus stops and pedestrian crossings. Pedestrians’ needs must be paramount.
“The expanse of the pavement cafe must not conflict with any access or dropped crossings that are required for free passage of normal road users.
“Barriers and tapping rails should be positioned and maintained to the satisfaction of Hyndburn Council and should be totally removed outside the permitted hours of operation of the cafe, restaurant or bar.”
A 2017 report on Accrington town centre found that vacancies were above the national average and there was only a limited presence from national retailers.
Speaking at the time the new policy was first mooted, chief planning and transportation officer Simon Prideaux said: “Whilst the council is not able to influence factors such as wage inflation, exchange rates and on-line shopping trends, it is able to help shape the town centre and work towards creating an attractive place where people want to work and visit.
“Footfall, the number of people walking in the town centre, is recognised as a key health indicator of town centre success and over the past 10 years there have been a number of significant developments that have helped to increase the number of people in Accrington Town Centre and make it more attractive for business.
Mr Prideaux said the new train station, Tesco, the redevelopment of the market hall, refurbishment of the town hall, the new bus station and the town square redevelopment had all had a positive impact on the town centre.
He added: “Whilst these developments have helped to improve the town centre, its accessibility and environment, there is a continuing need to explore and develop ways of attracting people and businesses into Accrington.
“Possessing a diversity of uses is also recognised as a means of attracting people into town centres."
In 2018, proposals for an outdoor seating area aimed at bringing ‘a cafe culture’ to Accrington town square were rejected due to ‘not being in keeping with the area’.
Plans for the Accrington Pals Outdoor Café outside the Market Hall in Accrington were recommended for approval in a planning report.
But the proposals were rejected by the Hyndburn Council planning committee, by 10 votes to two.