An innovative move by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has proved to be a key ingredient in the growth of pavement cafes in the area over the past year.
Pavement cafes - popular throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland - can help develop a local cafe culture, which in turn can have a positive effect on urban environments, promote town and city centres, contribute to the general wellbeing of communities and appeal to tourists.
And in a bid to further enhance towns and villages in Mid and East Antrim, Council opted to waive fees for any traders applying for a Pavement Cafe Licence locally – the first Northern Ireland council to do so.
It was also decided that the licences would last until March 2020.
The application process opened earlier this month and already eight local businesses have successfully applied for the licence, with eight others currently under consideration.
An update on the scheme was provided to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Operational Committee.
Chair of the Committee, Councillor Dr Mark McKinty, said: “There has been excellent feedback to the zero-fee policy set out by Council.
“Applicants have also praised the ease with which the licence can be obtained.
“This scheme supports business expansion in all settings and maintains quality and safety standards in the Borough.
“It also boosts town centre regeneration and encourages citizens to visit our outstanding eateries in safe, pleasant public spaces. Well-regulated pavement cafes can contribute to an excellent visitor experience, enhance the attractiveness of a local area and encourage visitors to stay longer and spend more.
“Council is fully committed to supporting business growth and development, and promoting an environment that encourages and facilitates investment in our Borough.
“Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has consistently demonstrated its dedication to a flourishing local economy and supporting economic development in our Borough.
“Growing the economy is our number one strategic priority in Mid and East Antrim, and Council is committed to developing our tourism potential and delivering excellent services, as set out in Borough’s Corporate Plan.”