4 July 2022
Summer is upon us and with the promise of sunshine comes the opportunity for the hospitality sector to maximise its revenue streams now Government regulations make it easier to apply for a pavement licence.
Pavement licences have proved increasingly popular in the hospitality sector, allowing businesses to set up removable furniture over parts of the highway adjacent to their premises for the sale of food and drink on or off premises. This was a vital revenue stream for the hospitality sector during the coronavirus pandemic when indoor-mixing restrictions were imposed, and it will be important again during the summer months as businesses attempt to recover losses suffered over the past two years.
So, what is a pavement licence? And which businesses are eligible to apply whilst the temporary, fast-tracked regime is still in place?
What is a pavement licence?
A pavement licence is a licence granted by the local authority or deemed to have been granted which allows the licence holder to place removeable furniture over certain parts of the highway adjacent to their premises.
Previously a business had to apply through Part 7A of the Highways Act 1980 which had varying application fees depending on the local authority and a minimum 28 calendar day consultation period.
To support a struggling hospitality sector during the pandemic, in July 2021 the Government temporarily fast-tracked the process with the passing of the Business and Planning Act 2020 (Pavement Licence) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (the “Regulations”). Under the Regulations, eligible businesses can apply to the local authority for a capped fee of £100 and an obligation on the local authority to determine the application within 10 working days. If the local authority does not determine the application within this timeframe, then the licence is deemed granted.
Under recently updated Government guidelines, this temporary, fast-tracked process allow licences to remain in place up to 30 September 2022 for any applications made after the Regulations came into force in July 2021. A link to the full Government guidance can be found here:
For any hospitality businesses wishing to capitalise on this fast-tracked regime, now is therefore the time to apply to reap the rewards this summer.
Which businesses are eligible to apply and what information must they provide?
Eligible businesses are those in England only which use their premises or propose to use their premises for the sale of food and drink for consumption on or off the premises such as cafes, restaurants and bars.
As part of its application, an eligible business must:
- specify the premises and the part of the relevant highway;
- specify the purpose for which the furniture will be used;
- specify the days of the week and the hours it is proposed to have furniture on the highway;
- describe the type of furniture to which the application relates;
- specify the date on which the application is made; and
- provide evidence of public liability insurance or such other information as the local authority may require.
What furniture can be permitted by a licence?
The furniture permitted under a pavement licence is required to be removable and includes counters, stalls, tables, chairs, benches, umbrellas, barriers and heaters. Local authorities are encouraged to be pragmatic when determining what is ‘removable’ furniture.
Is planning consent required?
The good news is that planning consent is not required. Once a pavement licence is granted, or deemed to be granted, the applicant will also benefit from deemed planning permission to use the land for anything done pursuant to the licence whilst the licence remains valid.
What happens after 30 September 2022?
Unless the Government implements any further changes or extensions, then for any business that wishes to extend its use of pavement furniture beyond the end of September 2022, it will need to apply for a new licence under Part 7A of the Highways Act 1980 or equivalent provisions in any Local Act. It is therefore important to think ahead and act in good time given the 28 calendar day consultation period under Part 7.
What other licences should eligible businesses be thinking about?
A pavement licence only permits businesses to place furniture on the highway. It does not negate the need for other licences such as a licence to sell alcohol, and the need to comply with registration requirements for food businesses. Businesses therefore need to ensure that they have obtained all premises, liquor and registration licences required for the sale of food and alcohol and check the duties they are obliged to comply with under the Equality Act to ensure they do not discriminate in providing their services.
This article is current at the date of publication set out above and is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.
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