The Business and Planning Bill is expected to be considered in Parliament on Monday 29 June 2020 with a view to it being enacted immediately. It proposes to relax certain laws relating to the provision of outside tables and chairs and off sales of alcohol.
Presently, a licence is required from your local council if you want to place tables, chairs or other temporary furniture on the pavement in England and Wales. In some scenarios planning consent is also necessary. This licence should not be confused with an alcohol licence. It is sometimes referred to as a street trading licence.
The Government is introducing a fast track process to enable any business that sells food or drink for consumption on or off the premises, to apply for what it has called a pavement licence.
A pavement licence will allow the licence-holder to put removable furniture on part of a relevant highway adjacent to the premises for the purpose of the sale of and the consumption of food and drink.
The pavement licence will trump any requirement for planning permission.
Provided the application process is followed correctly there is a 7 day consultation period. A public notice is displayed on the premises. The Council must have regard to representations made and at the end of the 7 day period either grant or reject the application.
The pavement licence can be issued for a fixed period of time but if unlimited in time, it will expire on 30 September 2021.
Changes to the Licensing Act
The drafting of this part of the Bill is complex. It may yet be changed before it becomes law.
The intention seems to be to allow pubs and restaurants with on licences (premises licences that authorise the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises) permission to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises. The Bill distinguishes between:
- Premises that have on licences only (usually restaurants)
- Premises that have on and off licences (usually pubs and hotels)
Premises licences will be automatically varied to allow for off sales and alcohol delivery. The variation will apply until 30 September 2021.
This does not obviate the need for a pavement licence (see above).
The variation does not apply if an application to include off sales has been refused in the last 3 years or if a condition restricting off sales has been imposed during this period.
In the case of on licences, any conditions inconsistent with the sale of alcohol off the premises will be disregarded.
This disregard will not apply to on/off licences save that a condition preventing delivery or a condition that alcohol may only be sold in sealed containers will not apply.
It is common for pub/hotel on/off licences to be subject to conditions that control the use of outdoor space. For example, a condition may require the removal of all tables and chairs or closure of a beer garden by a certain time.
These conditions will not be overridden by the change to the law. This appears to be a deliberate omission by the parliamentary draughtsman and will result in a great deal of confusion.