Groningen’s main square is becoming a much more pleasant place to spend time
The municipality of Groningen has placed two large bench ‘islands’ on the Grote Markt, with space for about twenty people per bench. In the coming weeks, greenery will fill the centre of the benches, to make the Grote Markt more shady, and likely to be more pleasant in the summer. The benches are located on the spot where the tourist office with the immensely popular ‘stairs’ (and less popular tourist office) used to be.
The hospitality industry has responded less positively, reports the GROC, with one pub saying on its Facebook page that “the timing is wrong and this is a wrong signal”, with the benches not being well suited for social distancing. Hans Singelenberg, of Koninklijke Horeca Nederland, says that terraces have to abide by strict rules of social distancing, whilst “it is unacceptable that the Gemeente has facilitated people to sit, uncontrolled, in a clump.
The City of Groningen had promised to realise more public seating in the city center, with its ‘Vitamin G’ plan, which hopes to make the city a better place to spend time, and also help deal with heat stress in the high summer. There is room for twenty people on the large benches.
The benches are part of the larger Grote Markt redesign, with plans in place to pedestrianise the entire square.