MORPETH is set to trial some evening cafe culture in the Market Place.
Part of Pizza Express’s plans for its new outlet in the Aruba premises is an outdoor dining area with six to eight tables.
Discussions with Northumberland County Council are ongoing about the conditions of the licence that the business needs to sell food and drink outside the building.
Its first suggestion of having the marked out area open until 11.15pm was rejected by the authority, but it has agreed to give a 9.30pm finishing time a try.
Pizza Express would not be permitted to use it during market days or local events such as Fair Day and the Northumbrian Gathering.
Council Network Manager for Highways and Neighbourhood Services Dick Phillips said: “Now that we have an agreed closing time we can’t see any problems with this going ahead, especially as we can pull the licence at any time on the basis that it’s a trial run.
“We will be able to decide when they can and can’t be there and Pizza Express will be responsible for looking after the area.
“The licence will also make sure that it doesn’t cause disruption to the walkways and people’s access to the Market Place.”
At a meeting of Morpeth Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee, Chairman Graeme Trotter said he was concerned that people on some of the tables may be bothered by those smoking on others.
Mr Phillips said there was nothing the council could do if people smoked outside so those who do not smoke may prefer to go inside.
The company recently received planning permission for the demolition of a conservatory on the first floor of the site and to replace it with a traditional flat roofed extension for a back house wash-up area.
The town council had initially objected to the proposal on the grounds that it would be out of keeping with the character of the other properties in the alley, which form an emerging, secondary shopping facility and important access to the Market Place.
But it withdrew this objection when it received further details, such as the fact that the building’s walls will be painted the same cream colour as the walls in the alleyway and two lights will be installed to add to the existing lighting in the area.