OUTDOOR temporary dining “parklets” that popped up across the Mornington Peninsula during COVID-19 restrictions may be allowed to stay.
During the pandemic, the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council allowed traders to set up temporary outdoor dining areas outside of their businesses, often using footpaths and car parking spaces.
The aim was to support traders who had struggled through months of closures.
The parklets, which often included fencing, plantings and furniture, were popular with patrons, especially over summer. The initiative also saw a range of cultural activities in town centres, including art, music and performance.
In most towns where parklets operated successfully, traders pushed for the program to continue, saying it had brought “life” and a European feel to the peninsula.
Tony Kafrouni, of Vinnies’ Boys Pizza, Mount Eliza, who started a petition calling for the council to allow parklet trade to continue as in other municipalities, said the livelihood of Mount Eliza Village had increased due to the parklet dining, with many people coming out to eat and drink coffee and staying to shop.
The council says feedback from traders “varied”.
Kafrouni said he welcomed the plan to legitimise parklets, but wished it had not taken so long, with most other councils already having a permanent policy in place.
Because outdoor liquor licences were tied to the temporary parklet licences, hospitality venues have not been able to serve alcohol in the parklets since the end of June.
The draft parklet policy, which would enable traders to create parklets for ongoing use, will be considered at the public council meeting on Tuesday 25 July.
The mayor Cr Steve Holland said parklets had successfully operated in a couple of peninsula townships since the pandemic.
“The draft parklet policy has been developed to strike a balance where permanent parklets can be a benefit to the community and not disadvantage neighbouring businesses,” he said.
“If the draft policy is endorsed, I’d encourage everyone to share their opinion when consultation opens.”