Outdoor Seating and Pavement Licence

Attention all restaurant, bar and pub and owners!  Summer seems to be in full swing now, and customers often pick where to dine and drink, based on whether they can sit outdoors to enjoy the warmer weather.

Here are some top tips to keep on the right side of the law when offering outside drinking and dining:

 Who owns the pavement (or the outside area)?
Unless you own the outside area or it is demised to you under your lease, you may need:

  • A pavement licence (also known as a “tables and chairs licence” or a “highways licence”). This applies if the outside area is on the pavement used by pedestrians, and is, in other words, an adopted highway, maintained by the local authority.

Do you need planning permission for outdoor seating?

  • Some councils require a planning application for change of use and it’s best to check with the local authority in question, as policies differ from council to council.

Does your Premises Licence allow outdoor seating?
Check your Premises Licence as it may have conditions restricting your use of outdoor areas to certain times, or, at all. 

You also need to check that your proposed outdoor space is included in the area shown on your licensing plan for the consumption of alcohol.

Alternatively, you need to ensure that your premises licence allows off-sales as well as on-sales of alcohol. If you have neither off-sales, nor a licensed outside area, then you will need to make an application to vary your licence

Do You Need a licence for customers to go outside and smoke?
If the outside space caters for standing customers only (e.g. to smoke) you do not need a pavement licence, but you still need to be aware of any restrictions on your premises licence such as prohibition of using that area for drinking alcohol.  Outside dining, smoking or drinking can also make your premises vulnerable to complaints from residents about noise and litter.

How do you get a Pavement Licence?
If a pavement licence is required, you will need to submit an application to the council’s highways department and possibly the planning department too.  Grant of a pavement licence is entirely discretionary.  You may be required to display a notice at the premises for a set period including details of the application.  Apply in good time because some local authorities take up to 3 months to give a decision and will also take into account any objections that they may receive.  A refusal should be accompanied by written reasons.

How long do Pavement Licences last?
Pavement licences usually last 12 months, but may be shorter.  They should be renewed in advance of the expiry date on the licence.

The above is a brief guide to the complex area of outdoor seating and pavement licences. It is intended as a general guide only and should not be relied upon as specific legal advice. For detailed legal advice on pavement licences please email Maria Guida in the Licensing Team or call her on 01276 686 222

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