Street café licence - Trading outdoors

Page updated on: 14/08/2023

Many businesses are looking at how to make use of the space outside their premises in order to meet the new social distancing guidelines. Cafés, restaurants and pubs are facing as much as a 30% reduction in capacity and being able to use outdoor space can make a real difference in the viability of them re-opening.

Retail shops are exploring ways to manage queues for their customers by cordoning off areas and providing chairs for customers to use while they wait. Local businesses are really embracing the challenges they are facing and doing everything they can to adapt to meet these new measures and continue trading.

As a Local Authority we want to do all we can to support you. However, we also have a duty to ensure that trading outdoors is done safely, legally and doesn't affect neighbouring businesses/residents or cause issues for pedestrians or road users. Depending on what you'd like to do you may need a street café licence, street trading licence, premises licence or an amendment to your existing licence and/or food registration.

A street café licence 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.

It is important that businesses adhere to Covid 19 regulations/guidance allowing space for social distancing and other mitigating measures in an outdoor setting
such as cleaning and disinfecting furniture/frequently touched objects between each use.

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 its 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.

Licence fee is £34.00 per chair.

You will need to provide the following information:

  • Business details – name, address, type of business
  • Detailed plans showing the exact location of where you intend to trade outdoors
  • Number of tables and chairs
  • Dimensions of the area to be cordoned off.
  • Footpath width that would remain after furniture is added
  • If you will be serving food or alcohol
  • What licences you hold already if any

Depending on what you’d like to do, you could need a number of licences. 

Request to trade outdoors