New survey seeks community feedback on outdoor dining

The community is invited to take part in a new survey to measure the success of the expanded outdoor dining initiative, introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic to help hospitality businesses to keep trading and recover financially.

With support from State Government, outdoor dining was expanded as a key ingredient to support the economic recovery of hospitality businesses. It meant more patrons could be served outdoors in public spaces to boost capacity in a COVID safe way and help businesses to keep on trading.

The City of Greater Bendigo fast tracked applications from business owners who wished to start or expand their outdoor dining footprint. Fees were waived on all outdoor dining charges as part of the 2020/2021 Budget.

Bull Street, between Pall Mall and Hargreaves Street, was partially closed to allow hospitality businesses to expand into the street. The City provided 52 water-filled barriers and 40 concrete barriers around the city centre. Some businesses extended along the footpath or expanded in allocated car parking bays outside of their business which were converted into dining areas.

The City received a $500,000 grant to support improving public infrastructure for the purpose of expanding outdoor dining and activating public spaces, including adjustable platforms, ramps and lighting. More public space and activation measures are being planned to support outdoor dining until the end of June and promote it.

Director Strategy and Growth Bernie O’Sullivan said 51 traders in Greater Bendigo took up the opportunity to expand their outdoor dining areas with all related Council fees waived and City staff assessed each location carefully to ensure spaces were accessible, safe and comfortable.

“The community will be familiar with the physical infrastructure put in place to expand outdoor areas and hopefully many people have been taking advantage of the outdoor dining offerings during the past four months,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

“As these outdoor measures are temporary and only in place until June 30, 2021, we are starting a comprehensive evaluation and consultation process and the community is invited to have their say on the outdoor dining initiative and its overall impact.

“We are seeking feedback on various aspects of the outdoor dining initiative, including the public space infrastructure, whether the extended outdoor dining has contributed to the vibrancy of the city and suburbs, and to see if community members took up the opportunity to dine outside.

“The findings from this consultation process will help inform us if there are new opportunities or long-term measures that could permanently activate some areas both inside and outside of the city centre.

“I encourage the community to let us know their thoughts and experiences and whether or not it is something that should continue in Greater Bendigo.”

Hospitality businesses will also be invited to complete separate surveys based on their experiences, its impact on their business and how it has helped them to recover if they took up the offer to extend their outdoor dining.

Focus groups with retailers are also planned as part of the consultation process.

“Through this consultative process, we want to gauge if there’s an appetite for extended outdoor dining to stay in some form.”

To complete the short survey, please visit the City’s new Let’s Talk engagement platform: https://letstalkgreaterbendigo.com.au/outdoordining.

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