Get permission for your outside seating area

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Street smart: You may need a pavement license
Street smart: You may need a pavement license
It’s May, we are in the middle of spring (officially), with longer days and the hope of some sunshine, many of your customers will no doubt want to sit outside your premises enjoying a meal or a drink.

Having an outside seating area at the front can add an extra dimension to your premises with the potential of enticing customers in, particularly in the good weather months. However, if you are looking to place tables and chairs outside of your premises, here are some timely reminders for consideration.

Who owns the land? Is the outside area private land, or is it council-adopted land (public highway)? If it is the latter, you will likely need to apply for a licence to put tables and chairs in this area, known commonly as a tables and chairs or pavement licence. If this is the case, you will also need to check whether planning permission is required because certain councils require planning permission for a change in use of the area in question as well as a pavement licence.

The next step is to review the conditions attached to your premises licence. Are there any that may restrict you from having or serving customers outside? If you wish to serve alcohol to customers seated outside, you need to ensure that you have on and off-sales of alcohol on your licence, or alternatively that the outside area where you wish to place tables and chairs is within the licensed area shown on your licence plans.

Pavement licences are commonly subject to ‘standard conditions’ of use for particular councils and, therefore, it is worth checking what the standard conditions are before you submit the application to ensure that they suit your intended operation. The process for such applications can vary from council to council so it is worth checking timescales prior to submission as well.

If it is established that a pavement licence is required, you will need to submit an application to the council’s Highways Department (or other relevant department that deals with these applications). Usually you will need to provide a plan showing the property where the tables and chairs will be placed, proximity to the boundary of the premises and the end of the pavement/kerb line, trading times and days, copies of public liability insurance, details of the furniture, of any barriers or planters you will use, and of course, the council fee.

A pavement licence is granted at the discretion of the council and a notice is displayed for a set period near your premises inviting any representations. If your pavement licence is refused, the council should give specific reasons.

Alternatively, if you are successful and the application is granted the licence usually lasts for a set period such as six or 12 months, subject to renewal by you on a rolling basis to ensure the licence does not expire.

Related topics: Licensing law

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