Pavement licence for tables and chairs on the highway

Pavement licence overview

A pavement licence is a licence granted by the local district, borough, or city council, or deemed to have been granted, which allows the licence-holder to place removable furniture over certain highways outside the premises in relation to which the application was made, for certain purposes. Pavement licences are granted primarily under Part 7A of the Highways Act 1980.

The Business and Planning Act 2020 process allows businesses to obtain these licences quickly and, where they are deemed to have been granted allows licences to remain in place for a set duration.

How to apply
Apply to your local district, borough, or city council. Often this is possible via their website.
Role of the County Council

The County Council as local Highway Authority is responsible for the maintenance and management of the public highway. Therefore, licences under the Highways Act can only be granted when approval is given or deemed to be given by the County Council.

The local (district, borough, or city) council must formally consult the County Council on each application. The County Council will respond in respect of highway conditions within five working days, or approval is deemed to be given.

Types of business that can apply

A business which uses (or proposes to use) premises for the sale of food or drink for consumption (on or off the premises) can apply for a licence.

Businesses that are eligible include: public houses, cafes, bars, restaurants, snack bars, coffee shops, and ice cream parlours including where such uses form an ancillary aspect of another use, for example supermarkets, or entertainment venues which sell food and drink.

Location of chairs and tables

Licences can only be granted in respect of highways listed in section 115A(1) Highways Act 1980. Generally, these are footpaths or footways restricted to pedestrians or are roads and places to which vehicle access is restricted or prohibited. This is national legislation applicable to all applications.

Most pavement licences allow a business to place tables and chairs (or other furniture) on the footway outside their premises providing that 1.5m width is still available for passing pedestrians. The furniture must be placed up against the business's shopfront and not encroach onto neighbouring properties.

In some restricted or prohibited streets, like pedestrianised areas, the tables and chairs may extend into the carriageway providing a route for emergency vehicles is maintained.

The County Council will not approve applications when consulted, that are from individual businesses that wish to place furniture other than as described above. However, we understand that not all locations fit the general policy and we will work with local councils to develop solutions where possible.

Local council lead initiatives

Where a local council (district, borough, city) is contacted about an initiative that is outside of the normal, they should determine whether they will support this and contact the County Council to discuss further.

Where the initiative is supported by the local council and they are prepared to lead on the this and meet the County Council’s costs, then several measures may be possible to support this:

  • Temporary suspension of parking bays (including pay and display)
  • Temporary revocation of parking restrictions (including pay and display)
  • Temporarily adjusting parking layouts
  • Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders
  • Implementation of parklets
  • Moving of existing street furniture

While it is not possible to issue a pavement licence other than as described above (item 5), in some instances, the County Council may decide to redesignate an existing area of carriageway or parking space as footway.

Once the area is redesignated under s75 Highways Act 1980, any application received for a pavement licence for this area will be considered in respect of its new designation.