Street café licence

Page updated on: 11/02/2019

A street café license is required for the placing of tables and chairs on pavements and pedestrianised street areas.

We will support licence applications for the use of chairs and tables outside a café, pub and restaurant where there is sufficient space, as they bring life and vitality to the streets.

In order that they do not cause problems for pedestrians and/or service and emergency vehicles, it is essential that  you apply for permission and that the conditions set out in the licence are followed. The condition requiring the cordoning off of the seating area is particularly important for the guidance of blind and partially sighted people, and is also helpful to elderly people and to parents with young children.

This page explains how to apply for permission and what considerations will be taken into account in determining applications for tables and chairs.

These guidelines aim to ensure that seating areas are enclosed in a manner that benefits both passers-by and patrons, whilst also maintaining a high quality environment. The following illustrations show how best to cordon off seating areas utilising various materials such as planters, post, ropes and tapping rails etc.

Illustration of layout for street café

  • Height - The enclosure should be a minimum of 1.0 metre high, subject to agreement of precise details.
  • Colour - The colour used for marking the boundary must be in a contrasting colour and tone to it’s background and the tables and chairs which are to be used.
  • Tapping board - A tapping board and a fixed top rail must be included on the directional ends, the tapping board being 150mm deep and as near to the ground as possible. A rope top rail is acceptable along the section that is parallel to the footway. The tapping board should be firmly fixed between the upright posts and will act as a fixed edge to the enclosure.
  • Planters - the use of planters for cordoning off tables and chairs will be considered on individual basis to ensure they meet the above criteria.
  • Parasols / umbrellas may be used in conjunction with the above, but canopies must not extend beyond the licensed area.
  • Litter bins - these must also be provided for each enclosure and must be of a contrasting colour to their background.

A minimum unobstructed footway width of 1.80 metres must be provided for safe and convenient pedestrian movement, this distance being measured from the edge of the licensed area to any significant amount of street furniture ( such as lamp posts, bollards, pedestrian guard rails, kerbs etc.). Where there is a heavy pedestrian flow, additional footway space may be required.

In fully pedestrian streets a minimum width of 1.8 metre or two thirds of the total width of the public highway, which ever is the greater, must remain free and unobstructed to facilitate pedestrian movement. This figure may be increased where there is a heavy pedestrian flow. The unobstructed route shall fall equally either side of the centre line of the footway to ensure the space available for tables and chairs is shared equally between premises on each side of the street.

In part time pedestrian streets, use of the licensed area may be limited to certain periods to facilitate service and emergency access requirements.

Any tactile guide path must not be compromised by any proposals.

A clear pathway of at least 1.2 metres width shall be maintained to allow entrance and exit from shop premises, and the licensed area shall not exceed the width of the premises.

If the enclosed seating area were to be located adjacent to the road, then a minimum clearance between barrier and road of 450mm must be maintained and the area would need to be enclosed on all four sides.

Minimum footway width requirements would then apply between the licensed area and the premises.

Within the Footways and pedestrianised areas of the Highway, applications are determined by the Highway Authority, under sections 115 (E) to (K) of the Highways Act and may be granted for up to 1 year. A separate application will be needed for each subsequent period of time.

You must obtain this permission prior to placing any tables and chairs on the street.

You will need the following information to complete your application:

  • Business details
  • Insurance details
  • Proposed outdoor seating area including a sketch of the layout and proximity to the road.

Download application form (.pdf)

You will need to renew your licence every year. You will need to send a completed application form and the appropriate fee. Unless there has been a significant change, your application will not go through the consultation process and will be issued on receipt.

Download application form (.pdf)

An annual fee will be charged for each licence calculated on the basis of £25 per seat.

Prior to a licence being issued we will undertake a consultation with the Public Protection Licencing Section, the Police and neighbouring properties. A public notice will also be erected in the vicinity advising any interested parties of the proposed Street Café, in the event of any objections being received the Street Café Licence will not be issued. Therefore it may be beneficial for any prospective applicants to discuss proposals with neighbours prior to submitting an application.

It can take up to 8 weeks to process your application, this allows 28 days for the consultation period. Please ensure you send the appropriate fees as this could delay your application.