April 12 is the date when hospitality venues across the nation will be allowed to serve people outdoors, under the Government’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown.
From this date, the Cornmarket will be closed to traffic on all non-market days (Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and possibly Sundays) until the end of September, while the five participating businesses repurpose this area to serve food and drink outdoors, weather permitting.
Gary Denniss, chairman of the Louth Independent Traders, told the Leader that there will also be buskers, bunting, and floral decorations to try and ‘create an atmosphere’ and bring the town centre ‘back to life’ as we emerge from the current coronavirus lockdown.
Mr Denniss said the following five businesses are involved: Larders Coffee House, The Auction House, Tina’s Cafe, The Mason’s Arms, and The Consortium.
He added that the Owls Fabrics & Wool Shop, also based in the Cornmarket, will occasionally be doing outdoor demonstrations.
Mr Denniss described the project as a ‘unique’ example of businesses working in close partnership with each other - and the local authorities - to adapt to the current circumstances.
He said: “All the businesses have been working together on it, and they have all been granted their pavement licences this week.
“We hope it will be a new era. The aim is to really create an atmosphere, and we hope people will come along, sit outdoors, and help bring the town back to life.
“Lincolnshire County Council will be doing the road closure, and East Lindsey District Council has been fully supportive too.
“The Cornmarket will be closed to traffic between 10am and 5pm on these days, and we have eight large planters on wheels that will be used to close the roads off while also making the area look nice and cheerful”.
Mr Denniss emphasised that the ‘cafe culture’ plan is separate to the county council’s current consultation in relation to the Active Travel Fund.
The Leader approached the owner of Larders Coffee House, Mike Bristow, who said the idea will be ‘fantastic’ for Louth.
Mr Bristow said: “What a brilliant collaboration between the local hospitality businesses, Louth Independent Traders, the county council, and ELDC.
“The café culture brings us in line with some of the larger towns and cities, and has the potential to give us a good boost in these uncertain times.
“Fantastic news for Louth. It will be great to see people moving about unhindered by traffic, better air quality, and not enclosed in the confines of the restaurants and coffee shops. Fingers crossed for decent some decent weather!”
Dale and Rachel Wright, from The Auction House, told the Leader they are ‘very excited’ and described the scheme as a ‘massive step’ in getting back to business.
The husband-and-wife team said: “It’s a massive step for small local businesses to be able to start moving forward to reopening properly
“It will provide a lovely atmosphere (weather permitting) for people to enjoy food and drink in a social and safe environment, until we can all open indoors too.
“[We are] very optimistic as we are all working extremely hard to make this work. It will be great for the town too to get more people visiting us!”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Lincolnshire County Council confirmed to the Leader: “We have been working with ELDC on street cafe licences for Cornmarket in Louth, and the arrangements are now all in place for businesses to use this extra outdoor space when coronavirus restrictions allow.
“We have been working with ELDC on street cafe licences for Cornmarket in Louth, and the arrangements are now all in place for businesses to use this extra outdoor space when coronavirus restrictions allow.”
An East Lindsey District Council spokesman added: “It’s been great to see the businesses work together to bring these proposals to fruition and hopefully it’ll bring a real vibrancy to the town. We’ve been happy to support the plans using some Reopening the High Streets Safely funding to purchase barriers and moveable planters to help mark out the area and make it look as welcoming as possible.”