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21 Apr 2022

A guide to the Pavement Licence for the independent hospitality sector

Covid has reshaped the hospitality landscape as we knew it and many of those changes have not been positive, however, one opportunity that COVID has presented to independent hospitality is the extended Pavement licence. The opportunity to increase footfall and revenue through the use of outside areas.

How we used to “dine out”

In previous years we would enjoy visiting local high streets not just for the retail therapy but also the treat of quality time eating, drinking and socialising in independent cafes and restaurants. During our classic summers we would regularly take refuge from a shower or heatwave inside a coffee shop for a quick tea and cake,  or if lucky with the weather enjoy  a leisurely meal with the luxury of air conditioning in a friendly locally run restaurant.

Outside dining wasn’t the norm, more a rare treat with few local businesses set up for whatever the weather dictated.

Then along came COVID and outside dining became the go-to business plan.

When we really started “dining OUT”

To help businesses continue to trade in a COVID-safe manner, provide much needed income and protect as many hospitality jobs as possible the Business and Planning Act 2020 (Pavement Licences) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 came into force on 20 July 2021.

·       Businesses may obtain a licence that can remain in place for a minimum period of three months or for a period not exceeding 30 September 2022.

·      The licence allows the licence holder to place removable furniture adjacent to their business premises considering the needs for all users.

·       This extension is specifically for cafes, bars, restaurants, snack bars, coffee shops, ice cream parlours and public houses and will remain in place until the end of September 2022.

·       If you want to futureproof your business and extend your use of pavement furniture beyond September, you need to apply for new licences under Part 7A of the Highways Act 1980 or equivalent provisions in any Local Act.

What is permitted by the pavement licence?

As with all legislation and licences there are dos and don’ts. Below details the outdoor furniture a café, bar or restaurant can use for their alfresco experience:

· Counters or stalls for selling or serving food or drink

· Tables, counters or shelves on which food or drink can be placed

· Chairs, benches, or other forms of seating

· Umbrellas, barriers, heaters and other articles used in connection with the outdoor consumption of food or drink.

What are the exclusions?

· Footpaths that are restricted to pedestrians

· Roads and places where vehicle access is either prohibited or restricted

· Licences cannot be granted to highways that are maintained by Network Rail or over Crown land.

What insurance cover do I need?

Legal obligations for managing any risks to those affected by your business still lie with you. Carrying out regular health and safety risk assessments will help you take the reasonable steps required to alleviate potential risks identified.

Public Liability is required and Expression Insurance can provide the specific level of Public Liability required by each local authority up to £10 million.

What is included in Expressions Public Liability cover?

·       If a member of public is injured or their property damaged by slipping or tripping and you are found liable, Expression would pay the damages, including claimant's costs and expenses.

·       Our Public Liability cover will also allow you to hold small local events to support your business. Events might include a food/wine tasting, games nights, small performances or small group activities.

· The high street is uncovering new ways to engage with customers during challenging times and we are right there with you, providing public liability cover for online shopping and delivery of local goods

In summary, embrace the change bought on by COVID-19, move forward and enjoy the positives of café culture and alfresco dinning. Continue to create a warm, weatherproof experience that our European cousins take for granted, enjoy the food, the coffee, the wine and the precious time with family and friends – the ‘new normal’ doesn’t look that bad after all.

If you want to find out more about how Expression supports independent business owners who love their business visit

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