Get help with outdoor dining plans in the City of Melbourne

Published on 29 October 2020

Photo: Amanda Fordyce

Melbourne's design community has rallied around hospitality to create the Melbourne Outdoor Dining – Design Assist Program to make opening up outdoors easier.

Are you finding it hard to prepare site plans for your outdoor dining for your venue in the City of Melbourne? Fear not: MOD.DAP is here to help? Mo what now? The Melbourne Outdoor Dining – Design Assist Program. It’s a pro-bono initiative by the Victorian branch of the Planning Institute of Australia to pair up traders who need help with their site plans with volunteer planning and design consultants.

Not providing the right documentation or plans means council is unable to process them, which in turn can lead to delays in being able to expand.

“We’ve created some resources to help streamline the process for our volunteer plan-preparers (how-to guides for assessing the venue, template site plans, et cetera) and a team to answer any questions that arise during the process,” says town planner Mia Zar, a spokesperson for the initiative.

“The key item is that in order to prepare for a permit for extended outdoor dining, the trader needs to submit a dimensioned site plan at a scale of 1:100." says Zar. "That's a huge hurdle for many traders, and an expense that many can’t afford right now – so that’s the hurdle we are removing.”

Here's a rundown of what MOD.DAP does and doesn’t do:

 What we can help with:

  • Providing advice on whether your frontage can accommodate extended outdoor dining (extended footpath dining or ‘parklet’ dining within street car parking spaces)
  • Preparing the site plan to accompany your application for extended outdoor dining
  • Preparing the site plan to accompany your application for footpath trading (if you don’t already have one – you need a ‘standard’ footpath trading permit before you can apply for the extended outdoor dining permit)

What we can’t help with (sorry!):

  • Applications to close streets or laneways, or to operate from a park or other public open space (you can contact City of Melbourne’s Business Concierge Service on 9658 9658 to discuss this)
  • Extending your liquor license (this requires a separate application to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation)
  • Advice on the cost associated with any furniture, planters, barriers et cetera (but City of Melbourne are providing grants to assist you with meeting these costs)
  • Information on the grants available to assist in setting up your outdoor dining area
  • Preparation of COVID-safe plans or advice on meeting the other requirements for the extended outdoor dining application (you can contact City of Melbourne’s Business Concierge Service on 9658 9658 to discuss this)

The motivaiton of these volunteer planners and designers is simple and admirable: “We just want to see as many venues able to maximise their trading space as possible,” says Zar. “We’re also secretly (not so secretly) hoping that this makes us all re-assess how public space is used, and that many of the car spaces which are taken over for outdoor dining never return.” Hear hear.

To register for assistance with MOD.DAP (or to register to volunteer as a planner) visit planning.org.au/viccontent/outdoor-dining

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