Grafton Chamber of Commerce’s chief executive James Patterson and president Jeremy Challacombe discuss the proposed Outdoor Dining Policy over a coffee in Skinner Street, South Grafton, yesterday.
Grafton Chamber of Commerce’s chief executive James Patterson and president Jeremy Challacombe discuss the proposed Outdoor Dining Policy over a coffee in Skinner Street, South Grafton, yesterday.

Outdoor Dining Policy slammed

GRAFTON Chamber of Commerce president Jeremy Challacombe has lashed out at the Clarence Valley Council for attempting to rush through an Outdoor Dining Policy that would stifle al fresco dining in the area.

The policy will go to council’s Environment, Economic and Community Committee (EECC) meeting in Grafton tonight, but notification of deputations closed yesterday.

Changes to the draft document include raising of dining out area fees for Grafton from $20 per square metre per year to $45 and the lowering of Yamba Hill’s fees from $90 per square metre per year to $55 like the rest of Yamba, which was $65 in the draft document.

Remaining intact in the proposed policy, however, is the minimum distance of 1.8 metres between premises and their dining chairs and tables on footpaths.

Mr Challacombe said food outlets in many other areas, including Tamworth, Ballina, Sawtell, Orange, Bathurst, Wagga and Sydney, were allowed to have their chairs and tables immediately outside their premises but the Clarence Valley had other ideas.

“It’s difficult to know what this policy is based on,” Mr Challacombe said.

The EECC business papers indicate the shoreline dining principle, as recommended by the council’s Access Committee, underpinned the policy.

“While I respect the need to cater for the whole community, the Access Committee’s view that dining on the shoreline does not seem to be uniformly accepted by the disabled community,” Mr Challacombe said.

“Centreline blisters or a range of other options are quite acceptable options according to a number of people who use Prince Street.”

A draft version of the policy has been on exhibition for public comment since February, but notification of the newly amended policy was only received by the chamber on Friday, Mr Challacombe said.

“We only had until today to let them know if we were going to make a deputation ... we haven’t had time to consult the people affected and yet we’re expected to address council on the changes.”

Mr Challacombe said the committee papers were misleading because they blamed the RTA for not allowing nose-in parking in Prince Street, which would have overcome some of the problems with the shoreline policy.

“Council missed the opportunity to change that,” he said.

“We should be enticing businesses to have outdoor dining, not stifling them.”

Several Prince Street food traders expressed concern with the policy yesterday.

Representatives of the Prince Street Coffee House said they were “mystified by the lack of logic” of the shoreline policy.



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