Watford Borough Council has waived licence fees for pavement cafes in the town centre - at a cost of £6,000 - in a bid to fulfil the Mediterranean street-dining culture touted in the original Parade redevelopment plans.
The council’s licensing committee agreed to cut the £367 application fee or £315 renewal fee to encourage more town centre businesses to join in the initiative, which is in the spotlight now Watford’s Big Events programme has officially launched.
Those businesses that got their pavement licence in this financial year will be reimbursed the fee.
The waiver only applies to businesses in The Parade at an estimated cost of £6,200 for the calendar year.
The move comes with the completion of improvement works to the top of town.
The licensing committee was told council officers reviewed the more generous space available for tables and chair in The Parade, and came to the conclusion this would represent a new opportunity to boost their businesses by providing a pavement cafe for the first time.
A report said: "In recognition of The Parade improvement works, the need for businesses’ co-operation and flexibility to accommodate the Big Events programme, and to encourage businesses to take advantage of the new opportunities in The Parade, the internal Town Centre Coordinating Group has suggested the licence fee be waived for 2014/15."
The report continued: "Some businesses may decide not to apply for licences this year if the fee is not waived.
"Other businesses may apply but perhaps may not be so cooperative in amending the physical layout of their pavement cafes to accommodate the events programme and/or market."
The waiver was agreed at the licensing committee meeting on Monday.
The committee also approved a small, limited trial of street trading in The Parade to complement the Big Events programme.
Up until now only two commercial traders have been allowed to trade in the town centre - a fruit and vegetable stall outside Yates and a fruit and vegetable stall in Charter Place.
Licensing manager Jeffrey Leib said: "We will allow no more than four traders at a time, not anything competing with the existing traders.
"For example in December, when we plan to put an ice rink in the town centre, it might be nice to have a stall selling hot chestnuts."
When there is an opportunity to have commercial traders set up in the town centre, the council will allocate the spaces and choose from the most appropriate applications on a first come first serve basis.
Councillor Asif Khan, who represents Leggatts ward, was concerned that these initiatives applied only to The Parade area and not the whole of Watford.
He said: "There are other areas of Watford. It would be nice to have more pavement cafes and markets in other streets in the town. I would be interested in how we can get these things going in certain parts of the St Albans Road."