Council offers free ‘pavement licence’ for more al fresco dining

The Exchange, March, one of those tea rooms and restaurants to be allowed outdoor seating. They are

The Exchange, March, one of those tea rooms and restaurants to be allowed outdoor seating. They are open 7 days a week 11-3 for collection, dine-in and delivery of their lunchtime menu and 5.30pm-10pm for a tapas menu. Their outside seating is ready and indoors is spaced out for social distancing too. Picture; THE EXCHANGE - Credit: Archant

A free ‘pavement licence’ is being offered to Fenland businesses so customers can enjoy al fresco dining.

Fenland District Council has launched a fast-track process to help pubs, cafes and restaurants now the coronavirus lockdown measures have been relaxed.

It means tables and chairs can be placed outside their premises without planning permission, which was previously required.

Cllr Sam Clark, Fenland District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Licensing, said: “This is all about supporting local businesses as they begin to welcome customers back.

“Current social distancing guidelines make it difficult for many premises to find enough space indoors to allow them to operate safely, so a pavement licence could help.

“The streamlined process will also allow businesses to obtain licences as quickly as possible, aiding their financial recovery.”

The ‘pavement licences’ are now possible through the new Business and Planning Bill 2020.

Most Read

The bill was introduced this week and aims to help licensed businesses which have reopened and have to operate social distancing measures.

In the meantime, Fenland District Council has waived the licence fee until the end of the year, and will determine applications within 14 days. This includes a seven day consultation period.

The bill has also amended the Licensing Act 2003 to allow businesses with existing alcohol on-sales licences to also serve customers alcohol for consumption off the premises and to deliver.

Cllr Clark added: “We know this won’t be something which every business will be able to take advantage of because their location might not make it possible.

“But some businesses could definitely benefit from this and we aim to be of as much help as we can.”

The temporary pavement licences will be available until September 31, 2021, and may be issued for between three and 12 months.

Applications will be subject to feasibility assessments to determine whether what is proposed is suitable and conditions may be applied to licences granted.

Visit the Fenland District Council website for more information.