Big businesses using Brighton and Hove’s parks, greens and seafront lawns may have to apply for a licence to use council-owned open spaces in the future.
The prospect follows a request from two Green councillors which sparked a heated public debate.
Hannah Clare and Phélim Mac Cafferty were concerned about the damage being caused by heavy vehicles and equipment and the harm being caused to lawns and railings.
Councillor Mac Cafferty said that they did not want to “go after sole traders with a yoga mat and skipping rope” but companies driving large vans on to Hove Lawns and unloading bulky equipment.
He said that the request to look at licensing businesses using parks and lawns was made after he and Councillor Clare heard from people in their Brunswick and Adelaide electoral ward.
Their ward includes landmark squares and terraces – including Brunswick Square, Palmeira Square and Adelaide Crescent – as well as a stretch of seafront lawns.
Councillor Mac Cafferty spoke out at a “virtual” meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Policy and Resources Committee.
He said: “The vast majority of city centre residents live in flats with no access to a garden. Their only garden is Hove Lawns or St Ann’s Well Gardens.
“These residents find chunks of parks taken up with trainers and exercise companies – and obviously that is disappointing.”
Labour council leader Nancy Platts agreed that it was a concern but, she said, the council needed to support businesses going through changes at a challenging time.
Councillor Platts said: “I will ask officers to monitor the situation where there are health and safety concerns. If it interferes with legitimate use of the parks, then we can look to take action.”
Officials have been asked to prepare a report looking at what measures might be necessary which will be discussed by the council’s Licensing Committee and its Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee.