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Apply for a food and drink pavement licence

Covid-distancing in a commercial setting requires lots of space. New regulations* allow local authorities in England to license seating and selling of food and drink outside, on some pavements, roads and places where vehicle access is restricted or prohibited.

Pavement licences are granted by local authorities and allow the licensee to put removable furniture on some highways next the premises being licensed, for specific purposes only.

They allow businesses (particularly public houses, cafes, bars, restaurants, snack bars, coffee shops, and ice cream parlours) to get these licences in time for the summer and to help support their trade during the warmer months.

Other types of businesses may be eligible including those where service and seating are ancillary to their main use, for example supermarkets, or entertainment venues which sell food and drink.

Where a licence is granted, clear access routes have to be maintained, taking into account the needs of all users, including disabled people.

The furniture which can be used includes: counters or stalls for selling or serving food or drink; tables, counters or shelves on which food or drink can be placed; chairs, benches or other forms of seating; umbrellas, barriers, heaters and other articles used in connection with the outdoor consumption of food or drink. The furniture must be easily removable and storable when not in use.

Applicants have to specify: the premises and the relevant bit of highway; the purpose for which the furniture will be used ; specify the days of the week on which and the hours between which it is proposed to have furniture on the highway; describe the type of furniture to be used; include evidence of public liability insurance – and include other evidence as required by the local authority.

They also require a plan showing the location of the premises; a plan showing the proposed area covered by the licence in relation to the highway; the proposed duration of the licence; evidence of the right to occupy the premises such as the lease; contact details; photos or brochures showing the proposed type of furniture; any other evidence needed to demonstrate how any local and national conditions will be met.

When they grant a licence, local authorities can impose reasonable conditions on the licensee.

Fees will be set locally, but are capped at a maximum of £100.

This is just an outline of the new regime. The official guidance runs to many times the length of this precis.

* Business and Planning Act 2020 with guidance here.

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