2 Jun 2023

Offering customers a bite to eat or a drink outside may be about to get easier for businesses, with Christchurch City Council proposing new rules for outdoor dining across the city.

A draft Outdoor Dining Policy goes to Councillors on 7 June and proposes a more user-friendly set of rules that do a better job of meeting the modern needs of hospitality providers.

“Outdoor dining is so commonplace in Christchurch that it’s sometimes overlooked as being a big part of the city’s culture and economy – and it’s important to get it right,” says Stephen Wright, Manager Operations (Transport).

“At the moment, we have two outdoor dining policies in effect, but they date from 1998 and 2006 and just aren’t fit for purpose anymore.

“The current rules are tricky for the businesses to understand, hard for Council staff to apply and don’t properly address our current priorities, like making public places smoke- and vape-free.

“We’re proposing replacing them with one single policy which is more user-friendly and aligns better with the Council’s current framework for bylaws and policies,” Mr Wright says.

If approved by councillors, the draft policy will go out for public feedback in July 2023.

The policy sets out how businesses should provide outdoor dining in public places, including footpaths and parks. It aims to support smoke- and vape-free dining, provide for waste management where appropriate, provide a clear and simple management framework, and support accessibility – the latter features developed using guidance from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

The Council has also developed design guidelines for outdoor dining areas, as well as new online forms and processes, and will progressively review current licences and review fees and charges.

There are currently 74 outdoor dining licences issued – 38 of them in the central city.

“It’s also crucial to us that we don’t disadvantage business who provide outdoor dining on private land, and we want to support the business community who play a big part in enlivening our city,” Mr Wright says.

“The proposed policy will apply across the whole city, but offer flexibility for different places, like Banks Peninsula, where a tweak may be required.”

The Council plans to consider feedback and make a final decision in August/September and have the new policy in place in October.