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Permission to use pavements

Handy points to note of the permissions required

Regardless whether your customers are consuming alcohol outside you may well need a pavement licence. Here are some points to note in respect of the permissions required:

  • Check the ownership of the outside area. If you or your landlord own the land outside the premises you may not need a pavement licence. Check with the Council whether they have adopted the land – their Highways Department maintains a list of adopted land. If the land is adopted you will need to apply for a licence to put tables and chairs outside this area, usually referred to as pavement licences, street café licence, highways licence or a tables and chairs licence.
  • Check if planning permission is also required. Certain Councils require planning permission for a change of use of the area in question.
  • Check your premises licence conditions. Make sure there are no conditions which restrict you from having and serving customers outside. If you wish to serve alcohol to customers seated outside, you need to ensure that you have permission for ‘off-sales’ of alcohol on your premises licence, or alternatively, that the area is shown on your licensed plans. If this is not the case, you will need to apply to vary your premises licence accordingly.
  • If customers are going to be standing only in the outside area then no pavement licence is required. Nonetheless, still check there are no licence conditions or Council restrictions such as “Alcohol Free Zones”, which may restrict the use of the area.
  • If a pavement licence is required, submit an application form to the Council’s Highways Department. The pavement licence application requirements can vary depending on the Council, but usually you will need to provide the following:
    • A plan showing the property, building line, kerb line, table layout, point of access and dimensions and width of remaining footpath. Consider whether your furniture will obstruct the highway and think about pedestrians, wheelchairs, prams, emergency vehicles and general vehicle access.
    • Trading times and days.
    • Evidence of public liability insurance.
    • Details of the furniture, barriers, planters, etc you will use.
    • The Council fee (variable depending on the Council).
    • If your pavement licence is granted it will be subject to “reasonable conditions”. It is sensible to check with the Council before you submit your application as to the standard set of conditions for operating a pavement licence. You may need to discuss and negotiate any particular conditions that do not suit your intended operation.
  • Once your application has been submitted, the Council will display a notice near your premises for at least 28 days, inviting any representations. It would be sensible to write to neighbours who would be affected by the pavement licence to seek their consent.
  • A licence is granted at the discretion of the Council. Although the notice may be displayed for 28 days, some Councils can take up to 90 days to deal with your application. If the application is refused, the Council should give you reasons.
  • If all goes well and the pavement licence is granted, the licence normally lasts for 12 months, however some Councils grant the licence for a lesser period. The pavement licence is subject to a renewal process and therefore it is important to check the renewal date and ensure you renew in advance of the expiry date of your licence.

Pavement licence applications can be complicated and often it is a good idea to seek legal advice.

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