As lockdown eased slightly, the first step for hospitality businesses on the Government’s roadmap allowed cafes, bars, and restaurants to reopen but only in an outdoor setting.

This saw more and more businesses taking the opportunity to open after a tough year for the industry and many opened outdoor seating in areas they previously hadn’t utilised.

As summer approaches with the hope of good weather and the UK public’s newfound taste for al-fresco dining, outdoor seating areas could be just the ticket to help the hospitality industry bounce back.

Pavement Licences

Unless you own your outside area or it is demised to you under your lease, to open an outdoor seating area for your business, you may need a pavement licence.

A pavement licence is a licence granted by the local authority, which allows the licence-holder to place removable furniture over certain highways adjacent to the premises in relation to which the application was made.

Where a pavement licence is granted, clear access routes on the highway will need to be maintained, considering the needs of all users, including disabled people.

To obtain a pavement licence you will need to submit an application to the council’s highways department. In applying for such licence, you will have to specify the purpose for which the outside furniture is to be used (which must be for the sale/ consumption of food or drink), describe the type of furniture you will have and show evidence of public liability insurance. However, you should apply in good time because some local authorities take up to 3 months to give a decision and will also take into account any objections that they may receive.

The applicant is encouraged to talk to neighbouring businesses and occupiers prior to applying to the local authority, and so take any issues around noise, and nuisance into consideration as the local authority will consider the possibility of anti-social behaviour and littering when making a decision.

Leaseholders should check their lease as this may contain a requirement to obtain the landlord’s consent before applying for a licence. Property which is owned or leased may have restrictions; a lease may contain certain restrictive covenants and a freehold property may have restrictions in title. This may be by way of an easement or right of way over the property and so this should be checked and considered before applying for a pavement licence to ensure that having furniture outside would not obstruct such rights and restrictions.

If you are looking for advice on pavement licences or your commercial lease, please contact Farleys’ commercial property team on 0845 287 0939 or send your enquiry by email.