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Outdoor hospitality: licences and guidance

Outdoor hospitality: licences and guidance

Apply for a pavement licence to use tables, chairs and other temporary furniture on the road or pavement outside your business.

Licence summary

All businesses such as cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants must ask the council for permission to have tables, chairs and other temporary furniture 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

The licence is granted for up to a year.

Pavement licence cost and insurance

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.

Other regulatory processes

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

Apply for a pavement licence

Read our policy for licensing of tables and chairs on the highway (pdf, 246KB) (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

You'll receive a debtor invoice for the value of the licence. 

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

What happens next

Once you submit your application to us, we have 10 working days to respond, from the day after the application is made but excluding public holidays. This consists of five working days for public consultation and five working days for us to finalise our decision. 

We’ll also consult with internal departments and 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 five 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 electrical connections

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

For any canopies, awnings or structure not covered above, you need a separate Streetscape Canopy and Awning licence (word doc, 27KB) (opens new window) . This costs £433.

For any external electrical connection, such as lighting, or a heating source not covered above, you need a separate Streetscape Electrical Licence . You must first read the Bristol City Council Streetscape Electrical Licence Specification guide (pdf, 615KB) (opens new window)  and fill in either:

If you want to have a canopy larger than 2.50 metres in diameter send us details of what you'd like to do for pre-screening before starting the licensing process. Depending on the individual circumstances, planning, utilities and highways consultation and approval may be required. 

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

Road closures and use of parking bays

In some cases, in primarily non-residential roads, we’ll consider requests to close roads in order to have tables and chairs.

You’ll need to apply for a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO), which costs £1,530. This is a reduced cost for hospitality uses.

Costs may be reduced further where there are a cluster of businesses wanting to use space. Contact business@bristol.gov.uk to find out more. 

If you already have a TTRO in place, you'll still need to apply for a pavement licence but the fee will be waived. However, if a TTRO has been agreed and paid for directly by the council you'll still be required to pay £100. 

On roads

You can apply to use non-restricted carriageways or on-street parking bays next to your premise in low traffic areas if:

  • footway space is limited and your sitting plans make it harder to maintain social distancing 
  • road closure is not possible

You’ll need to:

  • apply for a TTRO before we grant your licence
  • provide some form  of protection, such as barriers, on the roadway side of the licensed area
  • make sure vehicles can use parking bays outside your trading hours

A four week notice applies for roads and parking bay suspensions relating to coronavirus (COVID-19) so we can carry out a consultation. For other TTRO, you must apply eight weeks in advance.