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Pavement licences

To put tables and chairs outside your premises a number of factors need to be considered to ensure the correct permissions are obtained

Alfresco dining is a great business opportunity for operators in England and Wales. However you cannot simply place tables and chairs outside and hope for the best!

Ownership of the External Area

This may seem like an obvious question but the key to placing tables and chairs outside is to first of all ascertain who owns the area in question. If you take a traditional town high street, then it is likely that the frontage of the premises is the pavement and therefore it is likely that it is owned by the Local Authority. If not, and the outside area is part of the premises and not the public highway, then subject to the comments below on Licensing and Planning, the process is a lot simpler.

What is a Pavement Licence?

If the area outside the premises is owned by the Local Authority, then it is likely that permission will have to be sought under the Highways Act for permission to place the tables and chairs outside. These permission have different names depending on the relevant Local Authority and are called Alfresco Dining Licences, Pavement Licences or Tables and Chairs Licences. Every Local Authority has a different procedure and process which needs to be complied with. As a general guide, a clearance of at least 1.8m is required from the kerb to the perimeter of where the tables and chairs are to be placed.

Planning Permission

It is often the case that before tables and chairs can be placed on the highway under the terms of the Pavement Licence, that planning permission for change of use will also need to be obtained. This is because the use of the frontage is being altered from public highway for pedestrians to an external dining area.


Does the Premises Licence permit drinks to be consumed in any external area. Some licences have restrictions which would preclude this and therefore further advice is needed.

Pavement Licence Application Process

The pavement licence application process once the issues raised above have been resolved, is normally made to the Highways Department at the Local Authority. The application which in effect gives consent to place obstructions i.e. tables and chairs on the highway and any relevant barriers and heaters, is dealt with differently by each Local Authority as there is no standard procedure under the Highways Act which governs the application.

If you would like more advice on applying for a pavement licence then please contact one of our specialist licensing solicitors who will be more than happy to help.

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