Published: 21 January 2016
Q: I operate a small chain of cafes in different parts of London. I would like to put some tables and chairs on the pavement outside the front of some of my premises. However, one council has told me I need planning permission and another has said I do not need planning permission. Can you clarify this?
A: If the external area that you would like to put furniture on is privately owned then you need permission from the person that owns the area to place tables and chairs there. If you are a tenant this may be your landlord. You may also require planning permission. If the area is owned by the local authority then you will need permission from the local authority. Each council is free to set its own rules in respect of how you obtain consent from them to put furniture on the highway. Some councils require both planning permission to be granted and a separate licence (the local authority may call this separate licence a “tables and chairs licence”, a “pavement licence”, a “street trading licence” or something else entirely). Whether you require planning permission, a separate licence, or both – and what order you need to obtain them in – is up to the specific local authority. If in doubt speak to your local highways department or take legal advice.
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