For a number of weeks now, Belmont Street has seen an increase in restrictions to access for vehicles between 10am and 6pm. By not consulting local businesses prior to this move, the local council angered some of the food businesses currently trading on the street by impacting supplier deliveries, customer collections and home-delivery drivers.

This has been done in order to ensure that all businesses in the area can re-open safely, with new queuing systems and space for passers-by. The council however have shown a willingness to now engage with the businesses on Belmont Street and resolve issues where possible. This has also opened up the opportunity for pavement tables and outdoor seating areas.

Four businesses with a local interest in the street have combined efforts to collectively petition for licensed on-street seating areas. Siberia, Melt, The Tippling House and Latinway are four independently-owned food and drink businesses eager to see the city centre, and specifically Belmont Street, evolve into a shared, safe social space, comparable to the likes of Ashton Lane in Glasgow and Rose Street in Edinburgh. There are similar case studies of pedestrianised leisure areas around Europe which have proven to drive footfall, regenerate and boost local trade. City architecture firm Albyn Architects have created artist impressions of the areas around the businesses to demonstrate the potential that the streetscape has to offer.

Stuart McPhee, director at Siberia, offered his thoughts: “Cafe culture works; it worked when it was piloted last time in the Belmont Street area for surrounding businesses and we are keen to see it stick this time. Cities such as Copenhagen and Stavanger, with climates similar to ours, engage with the concept. We executed a poll last week that had 297 respondents. Of those, 78% of those were in favour of a project like this, but understood that businesses needed to be listened too and issues ironed out.

"We are really encouraged at such a collaboration on our side of the street and to see other businesses ready and raring to engage with it, such as ‘Cup’ and ‘Books and Beans’. We will be opening our outside areas from the 6th of July and we know from the success that this brings to our business that adding this on is a no-brainer.”

Mechelle Clark, owner of Melt; added: “The hospitality industry in Aberdeen has been dealt a large blow both with Covid-19 and the drop in the price of oil. We all have to adapt to survive and in the current climate there is no better way to make the best of our situation than to open up our streets to provide safe distancing to our customers. There’s a massive sense of community on Belmont Street and it’s great to come together alongside the other businesses to welcome customers back safely to the heart of the city.”

One of the endearing hallmarks of the current pandemic economic climate has been the number of local businesses getting together to collaborate in order to survive. Almost-neighbours The Tippling House and Latinway have expressed a desire to work together on an outdoor area, serving up Latinway’s trademark Latin American street food alongside cocktails, Scottish craft beers and premium spirits from The Tippling House.

Adrian Gomes, owner of The Tippling House, said of the partnership: “There are challenges from the road closures around Union and Belmont streets, but there is an opportunity here to augment the cafe culture in the city. The Tippling House has always tried to evolve with the times, and these are indeed new times for all of us. We're exploring a road-side seating area, working in partnership with street food outlet Latinway, to offer licensed areas outside both premises serving our drinks and their food. The support of our guests and regular Belmont Street users is crucial to this, so I urge everyone to consider the plans with an open-mind.” If given the go-ahead, the four businesses hope that this could be in place by the end of July this year.