Council has abolished its outdoor dining application fee and streamlined its policy in a move to pave the way for local restaurants to expand their diner experience and invigorate public spaces.

The updated policy was passed at this week’s Ordinary Council meeting and comes after a review in 2022-23 where Council identified that the former process was highly manual, complicated, convoluted, and expensive for the customer. 

The new policy has helped remove barriers for cafes, restaurants and food businesses to help activate Townsville’s dining precincts and encourage a more active and vibrant city.

Planning and Development Committee Chair Mark Molachino said Council has listened to businesses, heard their feedback and responded by simplifying the policy.

“Restaurant, cafes and other food outlet owners spoke, and we have listened,” Cr Molachino said.

“We have a new webpage with an online application form to help streamline approval, but significantly, the removal of the fee is designed to incentivise businesses to creatively consider streetscape activation and improved dining experience for their patrons.

“With key projects focused on activating dining precincts and surrounding areas, the review also aimed to ensure the current policy does not undermine any placemaking initiatives.”

The streamlined process will see the creation of a new webpage that will house all information required for applicants, including amended guidelines, amended design standards and a new online application form. This page will also link to the Outdoor Dining Policy.

“Applicants who lodge the online application form and meet the simplified requirements will be issued with an instant permit to their email address,” Cr Molachino said.

“Council officers will audit applications as they are received to check for errors and compliance. A formal assessment will still be required for applications that cannot meet the simplified requirements; however, the fee will be removed in all circumstances.”

Owner of the Tobruk Kiosk Kelly Behrens said Council’s decision is good news for small businesses like hers.

“Outdoor dining is an essential part of my business and I welcome the news Council will no longer be charging these fees,” Ms Behrens said. 

“The best part about living in North Queensland is taking advantage of our amazing climate and I’m thrilled Council is supporting outdoor dining across the city. 

“Every cost that we can reduce is great for our bottom line because these savings can go back into the business, so we can continue to focus on our customers. 

Visit Council’s website for more information on Council’s Outdoor Dining policy.