WARNERS Bay traders have welcomed a council trial that could see on-street parking spaces used for outdoor dining, but they want any parking losses offset with the creation of new spaces nearby.
The pilot program, which was endorsed earlier this week and runs until June, is designed to help businesses deal with the impact of social distancing.
Dubbed VibrantSCENE, the program offers hospitality traders the opportunity to use council land free-of-charge for either expanded outdoor-dining areas or the operation of mobile stalls.
"It would assist us, especially in summer, it's mad down here of a weekend," Ken Peddie, the owner of Warners Bay cafe Q & Co, said on Wednesday.
"At capacity I've got 53 seats [inside], but at the moment I'm running 16 because of the four-square metres [rule], and only 12 outside.
"So it's cut down a lot."
Mr Peddie said his "only concern" about a kerbside dining area was the slope of The Esplanade road. He said temporary platforms might need to be considered.
"As it stands, I don't know if we could seat people out there with the angle," he said.
Hippo Espresso owner Aaryn Algie said social distancing had more than halved his outdoor capacity.
"Any areas that we can get to make it bigger and spread more tables out ... we normally seat 26 out there and at the moment with social distancing we're at 12," he said.
Mr Algie said the loss of parking was a slight concern, but given there had been "a lot of talk" over the years about making permanent changes to the street, it was worth trialing.
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"It's hard enough to get a park down here as it is, but from a business point-of-view the opportunity to have more seating is more beneficial than losing a few parks," he said.
"It's worth having a go at it and then monitoring it to see how it works ... whether or not they can change the other side of the road into angled parking, or change it so it's only one-lane each way or something ... it's definitely worth giving it a go."
Under the program, at least 75 per cent of all business in a commercial strip would have to support a trader's application to temporarily change on-street parking into an outdoor-dining area.
Fox and Willow Emporium owner Kylie Rogers-Smith plans to support any business that applies, but she wants the council to offset parking losses with temporary spaces on council reserves or vacant lots nearby.
"This is such a hub now, there's so many people here and parking can be a nightmare," she said.
We'd be doing something to bring even more people here, but taking parking away.Warners Bay trader Kylie Rogers-Smith
She said a multi-storey car park behind the row of businesses needed to be investigated as a long-term solution to the area's growing parking pains.
Warners Bay resident Emily Cox, 27, said she had no qualms about kerbside dining.
"Parking around here is really bad anyway now," she said.
"I've lived in Warners Bay for over 10 years and it's just gotten worse and worse.
"But I think it would be good for the businesses down here at the same time, so I wouldn't mind sitting out there.
"It's a good idea to help them, but they would have to balance that [loss of parking] out."
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