Continental-style café culture could soon be coming to the heart of Lynn if new proposals are backed by West Norfolk councillors next week.
The plan has come in for fierce criticism from some residents, with one accusing the authority of trying to force major events like the Mart out of their traditional home.
But planning officers, who say the scheme should be given the go-ahead when it is considered by the council’s planning committee next Monday, January 6, argue that it would offer more choice to visitors.
They concluded: “It will enhance the public realm and result in a more vibrant public open space.”
The square’s car park was reopened to drivers last month, following the completion of a £1 million renovation project.
The latest scheme would allow for three areas, one at the southern end of the market place closest to the retail area, one outside the Corn Exchange and the area in front of the Dukes Head Hotel and the Maids Head pub, to have chairs and tables installed.
Planners’ report to the committee reveals that an agreement has already been reached between the borough council and Norfolk County Council for the borough to grant licences to businesses who wish to use the seating areas and enforce the rules around them.
The report added: “This proposal would allow people to stay longer in the area and enjoy the setting of the market place.”
No consulted bodies have voiced objections to the proposals, although English Heritage has called for restrictions on the type of seating and umbrellas that are allowed in the relevant areas to be imposed.
However, one of three letters of objection submitted over the scheme claimed: “The only reason the council want this is to stop the Mart coming in February.
“It is disgusting that you can’t let us enjoy our heritage. Plus, where will Festival Too go?”
But the authority insists the seating plan would not prevent either of those events from being staged in their regular setting.
Opponents also fear that other traders in the town centre could seek their own external seating areas if the Tuesday Market Place scheme is approved.
One comment argued: “If that avenue is not controlled the result might be catastrophic for town vitality.”
Other grounds for objection include the size of the proposed areas, fears over a potential increase in crime and vandalism and concern over where cycle parking facilities may be sited.