Reopening of town centres and the high street

As restrictions are lifted and pubs, bars and restaurants prepare to open their doors from the 4 July, there is a great deal that hospitality businesses need to consider when reopening.

We are committed to revitalising our town centres and the high street as lockdown measures are lifted, and we want to help your business navigate its way through these changes. As part of this we will be simplifying the process that allows businesses to provide outside space for the consumption of food and drink.

Government guidance

Guidance has now been published on keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19 in restaurants, bars and takeaway services. Please familiarise yourself with this guidance and conduct your risk assessments with it in mind.

You should always ensure your business complies with the current COVID-secure guidelines.

New permit process

The Government is finalising a bill which will create a fast track process for pavement licences, reducing the consultation period to seven days.

This new process introduces a streamlined and cheaper route for businesses such as cafés, restaurants and bars to secure a licence to place furniture on the highway. This will help them to operate safely while social distancing measures remain in place. It should help provide much needed income over the summer months and protect as many hospitality jobs as possible.

We will be publishing further detailed information on this new fast track process later. If you wish to be notified when this information becomes available, please email your contact details to

Existing permit system

We have introduced a new process to allow for a one month tables and chairs licence to be applied for at no cost. This 28 day licence will be exempt from the need for a planning application. Temporary Event Notices (TEN) can then be used to authorise the sale of alcohol for those who do not have off-sales on their premises licence.

There are three main areas of regulation for extending premises onto the public highway for social distancing:

  • Planning
  • Licensing
  • Highways


In the short term the temporary use of land (and temporary structures) can take place without planning permission for up to 28 days per calendar year (the condition being that the land used is not a building or within the curtilage of a building). This will allow the opening of such areas for a short period of time in some cases, but not all.


A temporary one month licence has been created to apply for permission to place tables and chairs on the highway.

There is a statutory 28 day consultation period before a licence application can be granted. It is up to you if you wish to apply for a temporary one month licence before the Government's fast track process becomes law.

Your application will have to ensure that passing pedestrians can still maintain social distancing and existing accesses are maintained to premises. The public will need a minimum of 2 metres to pass each other in front of any business premises, which may restrict the amount of tables and chairs that can be placed outside.

The licence will be issued with conditions and may be revoked if there are adverse impacts as a result of activities associated to the licence area or conditions not being complied with.

To assist with businesses being able to place tables and chairs outside, other items will need to be removed such as:

  • Illegal ‘A’ boards
  • Other goods that are not licenced
  • Advertising, as these often cause obstructions when placed on the footway


Please check your premises licence for the sale or supply of alcohol:

  • If you have off-sales listed on your licence, then no other application is required.

  • If your licence only allows on-sales then you must vary your licence or obtain temporary permission for off-sales.

    You can then submit several Temporary Event Notices (TEN) to cover the period (£21 per TEN per seven days, with a 24 hour gap between each notice).

The Government may deregulate the restrictions around off-sales, but until then off-sales must be detailed on your premises licence to allow for the consumption of alcohol in outside seating areas. This is why we have given information on Temporary Event Notices as opposed to more costly full variation applications.

Counter terrorism

The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) have also published guidance on protecting pedestrian queues from vehicles as attack weapons.