Keeping the lights on: The challenges faced by the hospitality sector

Food and Drink January 20, 2021

RSK’s Daniel Clare, Director of Acoustics, has teamed up with Claire Petricca-Riding, Head of Planning and Environmental Law at Irwin Mitchell, to explore the issues facing the food and beverage sector in the coming months. The resulting article was published in Caterer, Licensee & Hotelier (CLH) Digital on 11 December.

Daniel Clare and Claire Petricca-Riding

“There has never been a year quite like 2020, either in terms of businesses having to act swiftly to deal with a global health pandemic or the constantly evolving regulatory framework to which they must adhere,” the articles begins. “This ever-changing landscape has compelled food and beverage operators to quickly adapt not only their working practices, but also space utilisation.”

One of the biggest changes, Daniel and Claire continue, is the use of outside space. Venues are keen to maximise the space they have available, and outside areas are invaluable commodities, especially now we know that the virus is less likely to spread outdoors and the government guidelines relating to this. However, sometimes small changes to venue uses and layout can get operators in serious trouble with their neighbours and local authorities. It is important, Daniel and Claire tell the publication, that operators keep the locals on side, as they will need their support to survive over the coming challenging months. Careful planning can help avoid complaints and the stresses caused by local authority investigations.

Daniel and Claire go on to provide practical advice on the key considerations when using outside spaces. For example, venues should think about ensuring that the premises are well-lit for the health and safety of guests and whether local residents could be affected by the noise from the increased use of the space.

Noise is a particularly key consideration for several reasons:Because of the attitude of council licensing, planning and environmental enforcement teams, and the increasing sensitivity of local residents after lower levels of noise during lockdown, many venues may face complaints. Issues could include delivery vehicles, antisocial behaviour, kitchen odours, poorly oriented security lights and even periods of low, background noise.”

As the tiered system and perhaps further full lockdowns continue into 2021, it is likely that such complaints will rise in the New Year due to the continuing increased use of outdoor space.

Next steps

“Although the future may look bleak now, operators must look forward in order to keep their lights on through the coronavirus pandemic and beyond,” the article concludes. “Businesses that survive will be those that can light the way by forward planning and calculated adaptations, whether in reaction to COVID-19 or any future challenge faced by the hospitality industry.”

You can read the article in full in CLH Digital – Issue #36 (p.4).

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