PORT Macquarie-Hastings Council is encouraging one more cafe or restaurant to spill out on to the street in a trial that aims to reinvigorate al fresco dining in the CBD.
The Port Macquarie town centre parklet trial has been tested at Reyhana's on Horton Street. And it has been a resounding success.
The concept was first mooted by the Town Centre Master Plan (TCMP) sub-committee in 2018 and is now being extended as to one more interested business.
Parklets see a total of two car parking spaces in the CBD repurposed to help cafes and restaurants meet the need for more outdoor dining areas.
In Reyhana's case, the extension of their available seating cost just one parking allocation plus the construction costs of a timber decked dining enclosure.
The successful retailer for the second parklet trial will be required to fund all outdoor dining structures, planters, plants and furniture.
Council is seeking expressions of interest now and will approve the next business for the trial in a month.
The cost for a retailer to participate in the trial is between $25,000 to $30,000, depending on the design and materials chosen.
Council group manager Liam Bulley said it is a great opportunity for a business to explore the benefits of investing in a parklet style space.
The trial will expire in October 2021 after which council will make further recommendations about continuing with the project.
"When we went through the process initially we only had two submissions and only one of those progressed to construction and activation and that was with Reyhana's," Mr Bulley said.
"When other restaurants and cafes saw how well it worked, we started receiving more enquiries about how they could activate the front of their business as well.
"Off the back of those interested parties, we went back to the TCMP committee and council resolution and now we are back out there with an opportunity to develop one more parklet."
Parklets have been successfully rolled out in metropolitan areas and are becoming more prominent in regional areas. A parklet has been operating in the main street of Taree for some time.
"Businesses are recognising the opportunity to activate our town centre a little more and create vibrancy and more outdoor dining options. There is also an economic driver there as well for business and that's particularly important at the moment given the significant number of business impacted by COVID-19," Mr Bulley said.
Meanwhile, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes have discussed lifting restrictions on cafe and restaurant businesses to help them adhere to social distancing measures.
"Lifting restrictions on businesses could be in the form of giving them more space on footpaths, allowing pop up shops or markets to operate in public spaces (such as parks) - we've got to move on from a nimby approach that strangles economic growth," Mr Perrottet said.
"We want to work with businesses so they have the ability to flourish."
The NSW treasurer also flagged loosening restrictions to make it easier for gyms to use parks and for streets to be turned into outdoor markets.
Mr Perrottet called on councils to encourage businesses to use outdoor spaces, saying all levels of government needed to work together.
He also spoke out in supporting of reviewing the federal Fringe Benefits Tax on meals in a bid to help the hospitality sector.