Statement by Acting Municipal Manager Anthony Barnes
1 July 2022
Stellenbosch is a unique town. Residents, students, local visitors, and international tourists alike enjoy the variety of restaurants, cafes, wine bars and coffee shops that are on offer. Restaurants spilling onto sidewalks and patrons enjoying meals and drinks beneath giant oak tree canopies have become synonymous with our town. As a municipality, we fully embrace the uses and opportunities that outdoor dining brings, and we want to work with business owners to preserve this unique character. In the same vein we want to ensure that everyone, especially people with limited mobility, can make use of sidewalks safely.
It has therefore become prudent for the municipality to standardise the outdoor dining operations to ensure that everyone operates within the confines of the law – whereby all businesses that offer outdoor dining must apply or reapply for a lease of the space they are using for their outdoor dining.
This approach will standardise the approval process of the leases and replace the current encroachments. The Municipality strives to create an environment that is conducive to economic activity while at the same time addressing all the current violations. The current encroachment approach is outdated and not in compliance with the latest legislation.
To give effect to this, the municipality has put in place the following measures as it relates to businesses who offer outdoor dining options:
- All businesses that use the sidewalks (municipal property) for outdoor dining or the display of goods for sale must apply for a lease for the area they use or want to use.
- All businesses in the CBD that are participating in outdoor dining or the selling of goods on the sidewalk will receive a letter from the municipality shortly.
- Business owners who are presently in possession of an approved encroachment agreement and who applies within 30 days after the receipt of the letter may continue with the outdoor dining use until the lease application has been considered.
Encroachment in process
- Business owners who have applied for an encroachment but are not in possession of an approved encroachment agreement must reapply for a lease. These business owners will be allowed to continue with the current use until the lease application has been processed.
- Business owners who have not applied on/before 1 June 2022 and are presently not in possession of an approved agreement, but are operating nevertheless, must apply within 30 days and must cease all operations until the lease application has been considered.
- All new establishments intending to operate an outdoor dining facility or sell goods from outside their shops must apply before starting to operate such an outdoor dining/shopping facility.
- Any business owner who does not apply within the 30-day time frame will have to cease their operations with immediate effect.
- Please note that the application will require at least a sketch plan of how the outdoor space will be used and needs to clearly demarcate the area agreed on.
- If any structure is built or intended to be built on the area it will require an approved building plan.
- All business owners must ensure that the intended encroachment area complies with zoning regulations.
- No advertising boards can be placed on pavements.
Full information will be provided with the letters that will be delivered to all businesses. Business owners must ensure that they operate within the approved area as illegal encroachments will be addressed going forward.
It should be emphasised that this process is intended to promote a better outdoor experience, limit illegal activities and to ensure fair competition amongst businesses.