Legal: Permanent pavement licences
Ewen Macgregor, partner at UK law firm TLT, comments on pavement licences becoming permanent under a new Bill proposal.
Following the Queen’s Speech announced on 10 May, the government has made a commitment to make the provision of pavement licences in England and Wales under the Business and Planning Act permanent.
The Business and Planning Act was initially introduced in 2020 in response to the pandemic, providing a temporary pavement licensing regime for cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants. The temporary scheme was based on a fast-track application process and reduced fee level to support hospitality businesses hit by the pandemic. It is due to come to an end on 30 September 2022.
Key takeaways from the draft Bill:
The Bill, which was presented at the House of Commons, proposes a number of amendments to the current pavement licence scheme:
- Licence costs will increase from £100 to £350 for those who already hold a pavement licence, and to £500 for a new applicant
- Local authorities will have the power to grant pavement licences for a period of up to two years (currently pavement licences can be grated for a period of no less than four months and no longer than one year).
While the Bill is still a draft piece of legislation and subject to change there are a number of steps businesses should follow before the current Business and Planning act ends in September:
- Where premises have an existing pavement licence expiring before the end of September 2022, reapplications should be submitted so as to extend the life of the current permission through to the end of September 2022.
- Businesses that hold table and chair licences should look to have these converted to pavement licences in advance of the renewal of these permissions. In most cases the application fee for a pavement licence will be lower than that for the renewal of a tables and chairs licence. Furthermore, premises will be able to take advantage of the reduced application fee post 30 September 2022
- Certain existing tables and chairs permissions may authorise street furniture not permitted by the current pavement licence regime. In these circumstances premises should apply for a pavement licence and renew their tables and chairs licence in order to protect what they are currently permitted to place on the public highway.
- Some tables and chairs licences are dependent on planning permissions that will authorise premises to place certain types of furniture on the public highway. Businesses should look to renew these planning permissions. In all other cases there will be no requirement to renew your planning permission once your new pavement licence is in place
- We advise those businesses who do not have a table and chair and/or pavement licence to consider making an application for a new pavement licence as soon as possible.