Temporary streamlined process for pavement licences becomes law

Published 23 July 2020
Last updated 23 July 2020

The Business and Planning Act 2020 that came into force this week introduces a quick consent route to allow cafes, bars and restaurants to obtain a licence to place temporary furniture outside of their premises subject to certain location restrictions.

The new process provides a cheaper, easier and quicker way for businesses to obtain a licence. The fee for applying for a licence under the new process, is capped at £100 and the consultation period is 5 working days (excluding public holidays) starting the day after the application is sent electronically to the authority.

Pavement licences before now have been granted primarily under Part 7A of the Highways Act 1980 which required a minimum 28 day consultation period and often had higher costs.

The new process is designed to help businesses secure licences in time for the summer and increase their income. Businesses that are eligible include: public houses, cafes, bars, restaurants, snack bars, coffee shops, and ice cream parlours as well as businesses such as supermarkets, or entertainment venues which sell food and drink

Following the 5 day consultation period, local authorities have a further 5 day determination period. If the local authority does not determine the application within this period, the licence is deemed to have been granted for a year (but not beyond 30 September 2021) and the business can place the proposed furniture such as tables and chairs within the area set out in the application for the purpose proposed.

What does this apply to?

The furniture which may be used is:

  • 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; and
  • umbrellas, barriers, heaters and other articles used in connection with the outdoor consumption of food or drink.

This furniture is required to be removable. Local authorities should be pragmatic when determining what is ‘removable’ but in principle this means it is not a permanent fixed structure, and is able to be moved easily, and stored away of an evening.

It is important to note that where a pavement licence is granted, clear access routes on the highway will need to be maintained, taking into account the needs of all users, including disabled people.

Timescales and location restrictions

This applies to England only and licences can only be granted for highways listed in section 115A(1) Highways Act 1980. Generally, these are footpaths restricted to pedestrians or are roads and places to which vehicle access is restricted or prohibited.

If a local authority determines the licence it should do so for a minimum of 3 months and is recommended to allow 12 months or more. If the licence is deemed to be granted, then it will be valid for 1 year. Licences under this procedure will cease to be valid on 30 September 2021.

Access the full guidance from gov.uk