To help revive the high streets and hospitality sector the government has simplified the licensing process for outdoor seating for pubs restaurants and cafes.

Proposed planning freedoms in the Business and Planning Bill include allowing pubs and restaurants to use car parks and terraces as dining and drinking areas, under their existing seating licenses.

In addition, temporary changes to licensing laws will allow licensed premises like pubs and restaurants to sell alcohol for consumption off premises, building on support announced in March that allowed food and drink businesses to offer a takeaway service.

The changes introduced by the government will:

  • reduce the consultation period for applications for pavement licences from 28 calendar days to 5 working days, and grant consent after 10 working days if the council does not issue a decision
  • set a lower application fee for a pavement and street cafe licence of up to £100
  • remove the need for a planning application for outdoor markets and marquees, meaning they can be set up for longer
  • provide more freedoms for areas to hold car-boot sales and summer fairs

The government points out that councils will continue to consult their communities on licensing applications, ensure waste is disposed of responsibly and that access to pavements and pedestrianised areas is not compromised.

Wayne Thomas, partner at Bates Weston comments:

“These measures should make it quicker and simpler for pubs and restaurants to make use of available outdoor space to get their businesses up and running safely. Given that the sector can open again from the 4 July, this means they have the opportunity to make the most of the upcoming summer trade”.

For more details, please see the government website.

Draft guidance for pavement licences.