Pavement Cafes & Highway Consent


Outside drinking and dining has become hugely popular in recent years. Café culture is booming. There are many reasons that a pavement café area can enhance a business.

Pavement cafes provide an ideal smoking area as well as additional outdoor seating for customers in times of good weather: they also make an attractive statement on a street.

It is important to ensure that you have the appropriate permissions and consents in force to place tables and chairs outside on the pavement.

If the area is owned by the highways authority then consent from that authority will be required before the area can be used.

Whether the area is owned privately or by the highways authority planning permission may be required for a change of use to allow use of the area as a pavement café.

If alcohol is being sold for consumption in this area a premises licence will be required. The licence will need to provide for off sales so that alcohol can be taken into the outside area or alternatively the licensed area, as defined by the premises licence, must include the outside area. If there is a Designated Public Places Order in force which covers the area of the pavement café the licensing authority will usually require the outside area to fall within the licensed area of the premises.

The pavement licence application process can vary from authority to authority. Applications are usually made to the highways department, planning authority and the licensing authority. The application process can be very detailed with the authorities requiring full particulars of the design of tables, chairs, barriers and heaters etc that are to be placed on the highway. The process can take up to 3 months and it is important for operators to plan well ahead if they intend to utilise tables and chairs outside their premises.

It is usual that a local authority will limit the hours of operation of a pavement café. This tends to be standard throughout the area but variation applications can be submitted to extend hours.

Pavement café licences once granted are renewed annually and a fee is payable to the authority.

It is often sensible to arrange a site visit with the officers of the council prior to submitting the application to define exactly which area is to be used to avoid wasted time and costs. There is no right of appeal against refusal by the highways authority to grant consent to use the pavement. Appeals may be lodged against a refusal to vary a premises licence, or to refuse planning permission.

If we can assist you in any way, or if you simply want to discuss any licensing & gambling issue, please contact us at any time.