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Licensing update: Outside Areas

With alfresco dining and Easter on the horizon, now is the time to start planning for the summer season and preparing for your customers enjoying some time outside.

If you are simply using the same area that you have used in previous summers then, unless your planning permission or permission from the local Highways Authority has expired (do check this!), you can simply put your tables and chairs back where they were. Although it is recommended that you carry out a regular review of your health and safety risk assessment as well.


However, many of you may well be considering using a new area or enlarging an existing area so there are a number of matters to consider.


  • Is the outside area on public or private land? If it is on private land then you will need the permission of the land owner to put your tables and chairs there. If it is on the public highway, then you will need the permission of the Highways Authority, under what is commonly known as a pavement/street café  licence to place tables and chairs there. Any such application can take up to three months.
  • If you are using a new area for outside seating or extending an existing area then this will require planning permission, if the area has not previously been used as part of the pub. You would need to submit a planning application to the Planning Authority which can take anything up to three months.
  • If you are going to have a bar outside, cook hot food after 23:00 outside or provide any sort of regulated entertainment in the outside area then the area would need to be covered by your Premises Licence. If it is not you would need to submit an application for a variation. Most councils would insist upon a major variation being lodged rather than a minor.
  • If you are simply allowing people to take their alcoholic drinks outside, whether themselves or by way of a waiter/waitress service, then check that you have permission for the sale of alcohol for consumption both off and on the premises.  
  • Check whether there are any other conditions on your Premises Licence which may restrict the use of an outside area, for example any restriction on the number of people who can use an outside area, the times during which an outside area can be used or any restriction on when customers can enter or re-enter your pub.
  • Finally, undertake a thorough risk assessment of the use of the outside area; in particular consider the noise that may be created from people using an outside area and also the use of glassware and outside heaters.


BII Members can contact the free helpline at anytime for advice on licensing issues like this by calling 0330 058 3878 and quoting their BII Membership number.