Alfresco licences to be made permanent in ‘welcome boost’ for pubs

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Fantastic news: Alfresco dining laws to be made permanent (Getty/ SolStock)
Fantastic news: Alfresco dining laws to be made permanent (Getty/ SolStock)

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Pavement licences for outdoor dining will be made permanent this week in new laws trade bodies welcome as ‘fantastic news’ for the sector.

Pubs are also expected to be granted an extension to off-licences allowing them to sell takeaway pints and meals.

The new legislation, which will be passed in the Levelling up and Regeneration Bill in the Queen’s speech next week (11 May), fits with the Government mission to level up UK towns.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said the move was a “huge step forward” to let businesses trade outdoors at a time when they were still struggling.

“It is something customers have really liked,” she continued, and believed outside dining helped cement café culture into high streets, bringing life back to them.

The licences were introduced on a temporary basis during the pandemic to let pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes stay open. The regime – introduced through the Business and Planning Act 2020 – was based on fast-track applications and reduced fees of £100 for the licences to support businesses hit by the crisis.

Fantastic news for pubs

It is thought about a third of pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés have outside space to take advantage of the new laws. The industry estimated every outdoor seat was worth up to £6,000 a year to businesses in extra revenue.

British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin said the legislation was “fantastic news” for hospitality and would be a “welcome boost” for pubs across the country ahead of summer months.

“This is fantastic news for our sector and will be a welcome boost for pubs across the country ahead of the summer months.

“The past two years have been the toughest on memory for many pubs and whilst some created and refurbished outdoor spaces to host customers whilst restrictions were in place, others simply did not have the option to do so,” she continued.

“Permanent pavement licenses will give many businesses the opportunity to bring a new offering to customers and create a continental culture that will hopefully bring Britain’s high streets to life and help them thrive again.”

Restoring vibrancy and local pride

Some 10,000 pubs, restaurants, cafes and bars closed during the pandemic, with the loss of more than 350,000 jobs and sales of £87bn. The temporary pavement licences for alfresco dining had already been extended until September, but are now here to stay.

The bill will also contain new laws meaning high street landlords who let shops lie empty for more than a year will be forced to rent them out.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “High streets up and down the country have long been blighted by derelict shopfronts, because they’ve been neglected, stripping opportunity from local areas.

“We are putting that right by placing power back in the hands of local leaders and the community so our towns can be rejuvenated, levelling up opportunity and restoring neighbourhood pride.”

Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove believed the new measures would breathe new life into high streets, restoring vibrancy and local pride to communities.

Related topics Licensing law

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