It is now that time of the year where the winter months are well and truly behind us. Hopefully we can now start to look forward to many months of glorious weather; where operators can hope to allow their customers the option to eat and drink outdoors.
Some operators like to put their tables and chairs out on the pavements at the front of the premises. Doing so is often eye-catching and can draw in attention and custom. Unfortunately, however, it is not as straight forward as purchasing and placing tables and chairs outside your premises. You will need to look at various criteria before you purchase your parasols and picnic benches.
Who owns the area?
First things first, you will need to consider who owns the external area or pavement. If it is not you (the operator) then you may require a planning and/or licensing application in order to allow you to use part of the public highway for licensed purposes. If you own it, you won’t need consent of the owner but you may want to check that there are no restrictions on your title for serving alcohol or food outdoors.
Check your premises licence
You should check your premises licence to verify whether it allows alcoholic drinks to be consumed in external areas. You must also check whether or not there are any external restrictions such as designated public place orders or other conditions on the premises licence which might otherwise prevent you from doing so.
Do you need a pavement licence?
You may require a pavement (or sometimes what is known as a street café) licence. This is a licence that the local authority issues which will allow you to put the tables and chairs there. There will be locally-set guidance as to what is generally allowed in the event that such a licence is granted. Typically, however, local authorities will require clearance of at least 1.8 metres beyond the tables and chairs to the edge of the curb.
Pavement licence applications do not follow any standard procedure under the Highways Act. The application process varies from local authority to local authority.
We suggest that you seek legal advice before applying for a pavement / street café licence or indeed any other variation to your premises licence. Contact our licensing team on 0800 988 7756 to discuss the matter.