Pavement Licences & Pavement Café Permissions


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 additional outdoor seating for customers in times of good weather and make an attractive statement on a street.  They can also offer an ideal smoking area.

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

Permission is given in the form of a pavement licence granted under the Business and Planning Act 2020 or a pavement café permission under the Highways Act 1980.

Obtaining permission to place tables and chairs on a highway requires careful consideration. Whether you apply for a pavement café permission or a pavement licence will depend on what you propose to do in the pavement café area and the local conditions of the area. It is best to seek advice as to which type of permission best suits your business needs.

The application processes can be quite 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 processes can take some time to prepare and submit 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. Hours tend to be standard throughout the authority’s area but variation applications can be submitted to extend hours.

Both types of permission, once granted, are renewed either annually or bi-annually and a fee is payable to the authority.

In addition, 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 outside area a premises licence will also be required. The licence will need to provide for off sales so that alcohol can be taken into the outside area or, alternatively, the outside area must be included in the area defined in the premises licence as being an area in which on sales of alcohol can take place.  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.

It is often sensible to arrange a site visit with the officers of the local authority 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 or licensing 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.