This working group was established in 2015 to focus on Dublin’s 2,500-strong café and restaurant sector.
It consulted with a range of key stakeholders and it’s intended that a number of recommendations would be included in the 2017 Action Plan of the Dublin City Local Economic and Community Plan.
Consumer research commissioned in Autumn 2014 revealed that there’s a vibrant hospitality offering in the city centre. Of those surveyed, 50% stated that they visited the City Centre to go to a restaurant but only 29% came to go to a pub. However it should be noted that many of the Dublin pubs also serve food.
Of those who said that they visited the city to shop, 73% stated that they shop in the city centre because there are great amenities such as restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, delis and entertainment etc. This figure rose to 86% among those who stated that they shopped more often in the city than in M50 shopping centres.
Among the recommendations in the working group’s Café and Restaurants Sector report were ones suggesting the removal of the requirement for planning notices in the newspaper for tables and chairs and another to exempt benches from outdoor furniture licencing and planning application regulations
However these recommendations met with some opposition from Council.
“If we’re giving something, we have to expect certain standards particularly in relation to employees,” commented independent Councillor Niall Ring.
Another Councillor, Labour’s Rebecca Moynihan, questioned whether or not it would be a good idea to exempt benches from outdoor-furniture licensing as she believed that some cafés and restaurants “obnoxiously” take over public space.
Other recommendations from the working group included examining the feasibility of reducing the current licence fees and the current Tariff Zones and a raising of the standards for barriers and canopies. Dublin City Council should allow some level of sponsorship without changing the material use in certain zones of the City.
It was also recommended that the Council engage with the Garda Commissioner to increase the number of Gardaí on the streets in Dublin City Centre as well as to increase the level of coordination with all the business representative bodies in Dublin about forthcoming events.
Following some debate on the recommendations, it was agreed to return the report back to the group for more work to be done.