Moving chairs put heat on cafe boss

A VETERAN city business owner caught in a compliance spat with council has urged it to water down what he says are "restrictive" regulations that make a mockery of mayor Jeff McCloy's new vision to revive the CBD.

Tony Gluck, who founded Goldbergs cafe in Darby Street and now runs Bank Corner cafe in the West End, said his woes flared amid the heatwave last week.

"Bank Corner gets beaten by the sun in the morning and some customers took a couple of chairs and put them under the shade of the tree on the footpath across the road [in Bellevue Street]," he said.

"They sat there with a coffee and they looked a bit uncomfortable so I took them a table."

Mr Gluck then placed a second table with two chairs beneath the tree. He maintains the furniture does not obstruct pedestrians and is coveted by customers.

He said it was an example of the placemaking that was being championed by Newcastle Now, Newcastle City Council and the lord mayor, who in a letter to Hunter Street businesses last month said he was "enthused" about reviving the CBD amid council plans to upgrade Hunter Street via tree planting, new benches and seating.

But on Wednesday Mr Gluck was told by council to remove the furniture - a request he has declined despite risking a $1500 fine.

"It's not an act of defiance or bastardry, my business doesn't need [the seating] but the public does - why has council provided all these beautiful trees if people can't sit under them?" he said.

"I support the council's new creative vision but it cannot be achieved within the current regulatory framework."

Newcastle Now managing director Michael Neilson said the council was correct "on technicality" but that it should show more leniency to small businesses trying to engage in placemaking.

A council spokeswoman said all placemaking activities and events "are required to apply for a licence so that all stakeholders can be involved and considered".

She said Mr Gluck, council and Newcastle Now would meet "to address the issues and investigate ways to introduce placemaking initiatives in the area."

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