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Licenses and Consents for Outdoor Dining

Following an exceptional summer weather and with the post-pandemic trend for alfresco dining very much maintained, the demand for outdoor seating has been of significance importance to the continued recovery of high streets across the country, and to the hospitality sector specifically.

Due to the pandemic, a temporary pavement licensing regime was put in place for England via the Business and Planning Act 2020. The temporary pavement licence required content from the local planning authority, following a fast-tracked application, at a reduced cost.

Until recently, this temporary measure had an expiry date of the 30 September 2022, beyond which the temporary licence would no longer be valid.  If businesses wanted to extend their use of pavement furniture beyond the end of September 2022, they would have needed to reapply under Part 7A of the Highways Act 1980 or equivalent provisions in any Local Act.

Within Wales, pavement licenses are provided in a combination of Memorandum of Agreements which, like England, seeks to streamline the process and have a consultation period of 28 days or via the more traditional Part 7A of the Highways Act 1980.

Fortunately, following a recent announcement, that temporary measure has been extended by a further year.

The importance of the external pavement seating to the recovery of the high street was highlighted in this year’s Queen’s Speech. The new Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, published in May, proposed that the existing temporary measures on pavement licensing are made permanent. 

While it is encouraging to see that the Government is intending to make the changes permanent, this will not be confirmed until the Bill is enacted, thought to be in early 2023. However, the recent confirmation of the extension to the temporary licence under the Business and Planning Act 2020 (Pavement Licences) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2022 is a positive.

Prior to the new Act the temporary measures remain in place until 30 September 2023.

So there will be no requirement to bring chairs and tables inside on 1 October as we had feared prior to this announcement (though the regulations do not automatically extend licences that have already been granted under the current provisions, so businesses will need to apply for a new licence if they wish to have one in place during the extended period).

It is hoped that by the time the new extension expires, a new Levelling Up and Regeneration Act will have made these allowances permanent.

First published in Caterer Licensee Hotelier, August 2022

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