COVID-19: Re-opening the high streets: advice for hospitality businesses
Pubs, restaurants and cafes that would like to have outside seating for customers on the public highway are being asked to check the latest guidance from Government.
On 25 June 2020 the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published new guidance for pavement licences (outdoor seating proposal) to support efforts for the re-opening of hospitality businesses.
Hospitality businesses that want to operate outside their normal property boundary (on pavements, roads or verges) must have a license to do so.
A licence is required to make sure that enough space is available for the safe and free movement of all people using the highway. It also considers any possible noise disturbance for nearby residents and business owners.
However, there are changes to the application process and the information required.
The key changes proposed are:
- NELC (the issuing authority here) has 10 working days to determine the licence application. The licence is assumed to be granted if not determined within this period
- Fees charged to process applications have been reduced to £100
- The requirement to apply for “change of land use” planning permission ahead of applying for a pavement license has been removed
In order to apply for a license, the applicant must advertise the request and evidence consultation with neighbours and fill in the application form on the council’s website.
Any license granted under these powers will be granted for 12 months or less, until 30 September 2021 unless superseded by further guidance from Government.
Cllr Stewart Swinburn, Cabinet member for highways, said: “It’s expected that several businesses will be considering this option as part of the social distancing guidance still in place. We are doing what we can as an authority to help support businesses to recover from the COVID-19 outbreak, but businesses must work with us to make sure that any application considers everyone’s safety, not just the safety of those visitors to their premises.”
Any license will only be issued after consideration of four key points:
- Clear routes of access along the highway need to be maintained for the public
- Public health and safety
- Public amenity, taking in anti-social behaviour and nuisance factors
- Accessibility and other temporary measures in place