More than 17,000 outdoor seats approved for England to fight pandemic impact

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Al fresco dining: pubs, bars and restaurants have opened outdoor seating (image: Getty/urbazon)
Al fresco dining: pubs, bars and restaurants have opened outdoor seating (image: Getty/urbazon)

Related tags Pubs

Hospitality businesses have served up more than 17,000 extra outdoor seats on England’s streets in less than a year, analysis by PwC has revealed.

It said that more than 3,300 fast track applications have been lodged by businesses such as pubs, bars and restaurants to expand their footprint onto England’s streets due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

PwC analysed 3,366 applications across 343 civic bodies covering England’s unitary authorities, metropolitan districts, London boroughs, county and district councils where the licences can be granted. 

Extra customer seats

Breakdowns of the 1,022 licences with available tables and chairs data placed at least 17,045 extra customer seats outside. 

Pavement licences are valid for between 3 to 12 months, and were introduced by the UK government on 22 July 2020​. The intention was to help English businesses boost customer numbers outside and partially offset the impact of social distancing and indoor restrictions on revenues.  

Of the 3,366 applications tracked to June 2021, 2,061 were approved, 350 rejected, 490 pending and 11 were withdrawn. 

Significant uptake areas

Hotspots included Westminster, which hosts more than 3,700 bars, restaurants and pubs and processed more than a third of total applications at 1,310.  This was followed by Kensington & Chelsea (442), Hackney (95) and Islington (74) in the capital.  According to PwC across the country there was significant uptake in northern cities including Liverpool (348) Newcastle (103) and Bradford (54). 

The applications were made by a vast array of businesses, including coffee shops, hairdressers, hotels, pubs, bars and cafes, luxury retailers, co-working spaces, Michelin-starred restaurants and fast-food operators. 

Zelf Hussain, retail restructuring partner at PwC, said: “The take up of these pavement licences shows that for all forms of hospitality businesses, just how much effort they are making to keep going and how every penny counts, especially in times of financial stress.

“The last social distancing restrictions are lifting, but we’ve seen businesses encouraging customers to keep using their outdoor spaces. Some customers still feel more comfortable being outside, especially during the summer months, helping to allay any lingering concerns about meeting indoors. 

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