Published: 10 July 2015
Q: I have recently obtained relevant permissions from both the planning and highways departments to permit the placing of tables and chairs outside my restaurant. However, the local licensing officer has now advised me that I cannot allow my customers to consume alcohol outside until I make an application to vary my premises licence to include the external area within the licensed area. Is this correct, as my premises licence permits off sales?
A: I agree that usually in the circumstances you describe you should be authorised to serve customers in any external area on the pavement, having obtained all the necessary consents. However, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to tables and chairs licences. Local authorities do have powers to introduce their own rules regarding what restrictions they put in place for the use of tables and chairs on the highway and these can include, for example, restricted hours of operation, removal of furniture or, as would appear to be the case here, requiring that the external area be shown within the licensed area on your licensing plan. Your permission for off sales does not override the requirement to comply with local rules for tables and chairs licences. It is therefore important to check with your local authority and discuss with them any specific requirements/restrictions they have for the operation of external areas. If one of their requirements is that you must include the outside area in your licensed plans then you will need to submit an application to vary your premises licence to the licensing authority. This should normally be permitted, with updated licensing plans showing the external area to be used within the licensed area. Speak with the licensing officer beforehand if in doubt. Once the variation application has been granted then your external area will have all the relevant permissions required and you will be able to serve alcohol to these customers.
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