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Outdoor hospitality: licences and guidance

Outdoor hospitality: licences and guidance

What licences you may need

Depending on what furniture or structure you want to use and where, you may need up to 4 different permissions: 

  • Pavement Licence
  • Hospitality Structure Licence
  • Electrical Licence 

Contact business@bristol.gov.uk if you're not sure which one you'll need. 

Tables and chairs

Hospitality businesses such as cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants must ask the council for permission to have tables, chairs and other temporary furniture or structures on:

  • the footway or pavement
  • pedestrianised areas on closed roads
  • roads

This is to make sure that everyone can move about safely and freely while maintaining social distancing due to coronavirus (COVID-19).  You must make sure that:

  • there are no obstructions to pedestrians
  • there’s a clear footway at least 1.8 metre wide, taking into consideration street furniture

Having a licence means your insurance policy is valid while trading on the highway. 

Platform or decking

If you want to have a platform or deck to provide a level surface to put your tables and chairs on you’ll need a:

  • pavement licence if you remove and store it inside at the end of each day
  • a Hospitality Structure Licence if you want a permanent platform or decking

If you want a permanent or larger structure, you’ll need a Hospitality Structure Licence.

Requirements

You must make sure that:

  • the platform or decking is strong enough to support the weight of the tables and chairs
  • the edges are clearly visible and marked with a white line or with a barrier, such as posts and a rope, that must also be removed at the end of the day
  • it’s free of trips or upstands greater than 15mm and is not higher than the height of the kerb face levelling against
  • the surface is nonslip, especially when wet
  • you do not block utility companies’ access to apparatus, such as water pipes, and stop them doing their work unless they allow you to
  • you do not block drains and gulleys and make sure you remove debris that could create a risk of flooding
  • vermin, such as rats, cannot occupy the space under your structure

Your responsibility

Your business is fully responsible for the safety of your platform or decking. We won’t accept any responsibility for any fall or trip. We’ll forward any third-party claim to you.

Assessment

We’ll assess your site before granting a licence. We may turn down your application if it blocks access to local services or the free movement of pedestrians and traffic.

Apply for a pavement licence

Cost, insurance and other regulatory processes

A pavement licence costs £100, capped by the government up to September 2021 when the cost will be reviewed.

You’ll also need a £5 million public liability insurance that covers trading from the highway.

A licence will only be granted until 11pm, or the time it says on your premises licence conditions, and for up to a year.

We are following the Business and Planning 2020 Act (BPA) which allows pavement licences to remain in place up to 30 September 2022.

A pavement licence expires after a year (or until 30 September 2022, if shorter), or earlier if specified on your licence. 

If your licence is due to expire before 30 September 2022, you'll need to reapply to extend your licence to this date.

Other regulatory processes

The pavement licence only allows the placing of furniture on the pavement or on the highway. Other regulatory frameworks still apply, such as alcohol licenses and the need to comply with registration requirements for food businesses.

The pavement licence covers:

  • removable independent tables, chairs and benches not attached to anything permanently
  • removable independent parasols up to 2.50 metres diameter
  • other covering structures no greater than 3 metres by 3 metres 
  • independent gas bottles outdoor heaters, secured but immediately removable

Apply

The pavement licence covers:

  • removable independent tables, chairs and benches not attached to anything permanently
  • removable independent parasols up to 2.5 metres diameter
  • other covering structures up to 3 metres by 3 metres 
  • independent gas bottles outdoor heaters, secured but immediately removable

Read our policy for licensing of tables and chairs on the highway (pdf, 31KB) (opens new window) .

To fill in the form, you’ll need:

  • your payment reference number
  • a plan showing the location of the premises shown by a red line, so the application site can be clearly identified
  • photos of the furniture you want to use (up to three)
  • proof of your £5 million public liability insurance

You'll also need to fill in and attach a notice to the premise

Apply for a pavement licence

How to pay

We’ll send you a debtor invoice for the value of the licence. If you already have a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) in place, you'll still need to apply for a pavement licence but the fee will be waived.

You need to tell us on the form the reference you want to appear on the invoice.

What happens next

We have 10 working days to respond, from the day after your application is made, excluding public holidays. This consists of 5 working days for public consultation and 5 working days for us to make our decision. 

We’ll also consult with external partners such as Avon and Somerset Police.

You must display a standard notice outside the premises (pdf, 176KB) (opens new window) , so it’s easily visible and readable, on the day you submit your application. You must keep the notice in place for 5 working days after submitting your application. 

You should talk to local residents about your plans, especially if they may have an impact on services catering for vulnerable people, such as care home or disability organisations.

Contact highways.traffic@bristol.gov.uk if you have a query about the licence. 

Canopies, large parasols and large structures

For any canopies, awnings or structure not covered by the pavement licence and for any structure that will remain in position outside of trading hours, you need a separate Hospitality Structure Licence (word doc, 38KB) (opens new window) . This costs £433.

Email business@bristol.gov.uk and tell us:

  • your business name and location
  • the size of the canopy
  • what materials you want to use
  • photo or image of the canopy
  • how you'll fix the canopy to the highway or building
  • if there are any utility services in proximity, for example a drain cover
  • evidence of having public liability insurance to the value of 5 million that covers your operation on the highway

Requirements

You should choose an off the shelf solution that has already gone through structural assessment as bespoke structures may lead to a delay in the licence being granted.

You must make sure that:

  • no one can climb over your structure outside of trading hours if it has a roof
  • your structure is protected from traffic using an appropriate system such as water filled traffic barrier, traffic deflecting barrier or approved highway planter
  • you do not block drains and gulleys and make sure you remove debris that could create a risk of flooding
  • utility companies can still work on their apparatus, such as water pipes, by not blocking their access unless they allow you to
  • your structure is visible during the hours of darkness
  • no part of your structure hangs over traffic
  • the surface is nonslip, especially when wet

Your applications may be subject to planning permission depending on type and location, for example in conservation areas.

Your responsibility

Your business is fully responsible for the structure, including any claim or third-party liability due to the structure failing under extreme weather conditions and any personal injury claim due to collapse, road collision or any other reasonable occurrence.

Assessment

We’ll assess your site before granting a licence and may turn down your request if it obstructs access to local services or the free movement of pedestrians and traffic.