Top Tips - how an outside roof area may appeal to your customers
Published: 17 May 2017
by Helen Cardy
As space becomes increasingly hard to find in our cities, in particular, with the increasingly popular trend of al fresco eating and drinking many innovative operators are starting to look up. Recently I have been involved in a number of developments for roof terraces; in effect using existing flat roofs of varying sizes for customer use and creating additional trading areas without significant development costs.
If you want to use your roof space then please do consider the following:-
- Feasibility – is it practical to use your roof terrace for customers? How will they gain access; do you have an existing route out which customers can use from the lower floors without straying into private parts of the building; is it practical for them to carry drinks and/or food using this route?
- Fire Safety – obtain a risk assessment either yourself or use an expert; some roof terraces have an existing external fire escape but will this be satisfactory and for what number? If not, does the width of the only main entrance/exit and the staircase leading from it provide sufficiently good means of escape for your proposed capacity?
- Health and safety – is your roof and the supporting structure sound enough to take the extra weight of customers and furniture which you intend to put on it?
- Planning – Do you need planning permission or can you argue that the use of the roof terrace is ancillary to the main public house building itself? If in doubt it would be sensible either to contact the local authority planning officer or take independent advice.
- The Property – if you own the freehold then subject to the above, the use of the property is not an issue but if it is leasehold, you would normally require the consent of the landlord to change the use of the roof terrace.
- Noise issues – of course this can be particularly sensitive in relation to the use of roof terraces particularly if there are residents at the same level close by. It may be sensible to consult with these residents if they are not your regulars.
- Risk assessment – what risk do you anticipate from having people on a roof? Would it be sensible to construct some form of barrier if there is not one around the roof to prevent or reduce any of these risks?
- Licensing – is the roof already on the plan attached to your premises licence as part of the licensed premises? It probably is not and therefore you would need to consider that developing a roof terrace with customer access not previously approved would almost certainly require a variation to your premises licence to enable its use; it may be controversial if residents are around and therefore consider offering a condition restricting the use by way of time limit.
As always there are a lot of things to consider!