To further aid the hospitality and leisure sector, which has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has announced a new provision designed to encourage a safe return to local eateries.
Alongside the ‘eat out to help out scheme’ the government is allowing restaurants, bars and cafes to apply for a temporary Pavement Licence, allowing cafes and other eateries to set out removable furniture on pavements and other public areas next to their premises, in order to provide outdoor seating. Licenses will last until 30 September 2021 and will be limited to temporary outdoor furniture that can be easily removed and stored at night.
Middlesbrough Borough Council is encouraging applications and the town is showing an encouraging take up of the temporary licence and the Council’s website shows a healthy number of cafes and coffee shops applying for a licence across the town.
The government hopes the scheme will allow a speedier recovery for local cafes and restaurants which have been shut for an extended period during the coronavirus pandemic. New outdoor seating should encourage people to enjoy food and drink outside and increase demand for the hospitality sector. It will provide security and reassurance for customers by allowing cafes more space for seating arrangements so that they can better provide a socially distanced service.
The granting of a Pavement Licence is subject to conditions. Before granting one the local authority must consider:
- To what extent will the pavement/highway be hindered if a licence is granted, particularly what impact will it have on disabled and visually impaired members of the community. The council must still ensure pavements satisfy the minimum footway width requirements.
- Would the granting of a licence create or exacerbate any antisocial behaviour concerns, such as noise, litter and smoking?
- The applicant’s proposed social distancing and transmission prevention measures.
Application fees will be set by individual local authorities, but are capped at £100. Some local authorities, including Middlesbrough, are not charging any fee for an application.
All applications are subject to a seven-day notice period during which a notice of the application must be displayed at the premises. The local authority must decide on an application within 14 days of receipt, ensuring a swift turn around for applicants.