European-style al fresco dining areas have been approved to help reinvent Sleaford’s market place.
The Burger Lounge and the Solo Bar have both been given permission to seat customers outdoors in a bid to boost the town’s café culture.
Up to 64 extra customers could be seated in the outdoor areas across both venues.
North Kesteven District Council’s planning committee unanimously approved the plans, saying the space had much more to offer than being a car park.
Councillor Mervyn Head: “This is a very good move forwards. People don’t come to Sleaford just to shop – they expect a little more than that now.
“The town is moving towards a café culture, where people are encouraged to visit in evenings, daytimes, and holidays for families with children.
“I have sat in many market places in Europe which have been set out similarly and are very attractive.
“I don’t think this will have any serious impact on the market or the existing businesses, who have websites and Facebook to advertise.
“We have been banging on for years about how much Sleaford has to offer – more than many Cotswold towns.
“My only concern is that all the seating in the market place should be consistent and doesn’t create a miso-mash of different styles.”
He was echoed by Councillor Richard Wright, who said: “There’s been some concern that this would ‘encroach’ on the market place.
“Is a car park really the best we can hope for as we regenerate the square into a 21st century market place? We might as well give up and go home if so.
“This will help to deliver the experience that we are so often told people want nowadays, and increase the time they spend in Sleaford.”
An objection that was read from Councillor David Suiter said he feared that creating seating space would be “self-defeating if customers don’t have anywhere to park.”
Burton & Co Solicitors, which occupies the space between the restaurants, told the planning committee that the outdoor tables would lead to a loss of business.
They said that many Sleaford customers tended to be walk-ins, but councillors suggested that the large numbers sat nearby would actually boost their advertising.