Background

As part of the Government’s response to Covid-19, a simplified process is proposed to allow pubs, bars and restaurants the ability to offer off-sales and to gain permission to have tables and chairs outside their premises. This will be welcome news for premises during the summer months, but premises owners may also wish to plan for the winter months by considering weather protection, parasols and outdoor heaters as part of any plans to set up tables and chairs outside their premises.   

The Government has recently published a draft Bill relating to pavement licences and off-sales (pavement licences are sometimes called table and chairs licences).  

We have a page discussing pavement licences generally on our website  as well as information on off-licences  

Off-sales, in summary

In relation to off-sales, the Government is proposing to make it law that any premises that already has an alcohol licence will have an automatic extension to allow off-sales and that any existing conditions on off-sales licences will cease to take effect.  This will be for a limited period of time. 

Pavement (table and chairs) licences, in summary

In relation to table and chair licences (pavement licences), the typical process is that an operator would need a specific licence as well as planning permission for a change of use of the highway to allow for tables and chairs to be placed outside their premises.  Both overlapping permissions are needed.  If the new Bill becomes law, it will create a streamlined process for pubs, bars and restaurants to have tables and chairs outside.  

Details regarding off-sales

In relation to the details for off-sales, it is proposed that these are de-regulated until 30 September 2021 for those with an existing alcohol licence.  The off-sales hours will be the same as the existing licence hours for onsale alcohol.  Any special conditions that currently apply, such as the need to use sealed containers for off-sales, will cease to have effect.  Any operator who has previously been refused an application for off-sales within the last three years will be excluded from the deregulation and there will be a fast-track procedure for licence revocations to deal with any problems.  This will not apply to e.g. supermarkets who may have existing off-licence only permissions but it will apply to most pubs and bars.    

Details regarding pavement (table and chairs) licences

For table and chair licences (pavement licences), the procedure will be faster and will allow licences up to 30 September 2021.  

There will be a seven-day to fourteen-day fasttrack procedure for any applications and a new regime.  If a local authority misses the deadline to respond, the application will be automatically granted.  The procedure will require simplified ‘consent’ and will replace the existing regime of needing local authority planning permission and a street trading licence.  A new online (or email) application system is anticipated, and the application fee will be capped.  Public liability insurance will be required as well as a risk assessment which will normally be combined with a layout plan.  It will still be possible for pavement licences to be revoked if problems arise 

Conclusion

Although the new Bill is not yet law, if it does become law, this will mean a simplification to the regime for premises operators.  

We encourage anyone who may be considering an application to get in touch with us via 0800 170 1538. 

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