06:56PM, Wednesday 14 April 2021
L-R: Lily Warman, Marta Downs, Stuart Downs (owners of Strawberry Grove), Tegan McCartney.
Plans are in motion to allow a pair of Maidenhead businesses with no outdoor space to reopen for some 'al fresco' dining from next week.
Stuart Downs, co-owner of the Strawberry Grove café, contacted Steph James, service lead for economic growth at the Windsor and Maidenhead council, to see whether measures could be implemented to boost trade in Bridge Street.
He proposed the council pedestrianise the road to allow it to become a bigger ‘al fresco’ space for Maidenhead, and is keen for this idea to be taken forward in the coming months.
But in the meantime, it is hoped that he will be able to serve people outdoors from next week after discussions with the council over suspending some of the parking bays on the road until June 21, when social restrictions could end.
The move is also set to benefit Emmanuela's, an Italian restaurant located nearby.
It is planned for a few parking bays to be left for drivers to use.
Both places have been unable to open due to coronavirus regulations requiring hospitality venues to serve people out of doors.
Barriers and plants are proposed to be placed in the parking bays to allow people to dine at the two venues outdoors.
“The proposal to close Bridge Street is going to take longer because there are regulations with regards to traffic that have got to be put in place,” Stuart said.
“We really think there is an opportunity to generate an al fresco culture in Maidenhead.”
He added: “To get these parking spaces is great and I hope we can take it that step further.
“It won’t pay for our bills but if we can just generate that buzz and get people coming to the shops again, then that is fantastic.
“We are at a disadvantage compared to other places like Waterside Quarter, because there is [outdoor] space there. It is an issue for us along [Bridge Street].
“Places with outdoor space are going to be at an advantage to the smaller guys who do not have that.
“It is a bit unbalanced but we recognise the pandemic and things have to reopen safely.”
Ms James said that some details about the barriers and licensing need to be sorted but is hoping to get the outdoor measures in place early next week, potentially by Tuesday.
"We are really keen to support businesses who do not have outside space to be able to reopen," she said.
"We are working with our highways and licensing teams to suspend [parking] bays or use highway space where it is safe to accommodate."
The candidates standing in the upcoming Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner election have outlined their priorities for policing in the region.