Government issues new guidance to encourage outdoor seating, stalls and temporary markets

Published 30 June 2020
Last updated 2 July 2020

In a new section to the COVID-19 Secure Safer Public Places – Urban Centres and Green Spaces guidance added on 26 June, the government provides guidance and recommendations for local authorities to encourage outdoor seating and outdoor stalls.

Updated government guidance now says “Local authorities should support businesses in setting up outdoor stalls and outdoor seating. Businesses are encouraged to take up these opportunities”.

The guidance says local authorities should reform license applications to merge procedures or require just one application for outdoor seating and on street trading. Local authorities are advised not to take enforcement action that would unnecessarily restrict safe outdoor seating or street trading at this time.

Local authorities should minimise the time for applications. Manchester have committed to a decision within 5 days after completion of the 28 day consultation period. The guidance says if no decision is made after 10 working days the licence will automatically be granted.

Local authorities must review the cost of applications so that they are ‘reasonable’ and look at reducing charges. A cap of £100 is being introduced through Parliament.

Local authorities are still required to ensure that outdoor seating and stalls do not restrict movement and allow for people with disabilities, but the guidance says that space should be taken from roads to enable this. Operators must consider the security of outdoor operations, including risks from vehicles.

Further guidance is then given to local authorities in respect of the simplification of Traffic Orders and the creation of more pedestrian places. Other changes will enable outdoor markets to be established on sites and operate without a planning application, and for stalls to be placed on the site until March 2021.

The section contains a 20 point checklist (Fig 33) to support the temporary positioning of outdoor seating, outdoor stalls and the establishment of marketplaces.


The full guidance can be accessed at in the new Section 4.6 page 29 onwards.