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Pavement cafe licences

Cup and saucer

We have seen a growth in the trend towards a cafe culture, whereby many pubs, restaurants and cafes around the city are providing outdoor eating and drinking facilities.

Where space permits, some establishments are using the footway to operate pavement cafes. However, it is not always appropriate to allow pavement cafes due to potential obstructions arising for other highway users.

It is necessary for us to regulate pavement cafes by issuing all approved premises with consent under - Section 115 of the Highways Act 1980 to place tables and chairs on the highway.

How much is it?

The annual cost of a pavement cafe licence is £100.

How to apply

If you wish to apply for a pavement cafe licence or enquire if an existing user has applied for a licence then please email or call 01772 906792.

Alternatively, you can complete the pavement cafe licence application form (PDF) [414KB] and return to us at:

Customer Services Directorate
Town Hall
Lancaster Road

Please note: before completing the form, please read through the pavement licence local and national conditions that may apply to any licence that is issued to make sure you are able to meet these conditions.

What to include?

  • Location plan - to show where your proposal is situated in relationship to the surrounding area. You must clearly edge the site boundary in red. The plan should be at a scale of 1:1250, to Ordnance Survey quality. The Development Control Section will supply copies of OS plans for a small charge
  • Detailed plan (with elevations) - to show the proposed street cafe and its relationship to existing buildings and features. The plan should be at a scale of 1:100 or 1:200 and the main dimensions should be clearly stated

What happens next?

Once a valid application has been received and a no-refundable application fee paid then a number of agencies will be consulted and a formal Notice placed on site for 28 days by the City Council. Subject to the consideration of any objections and/or representations received to the application a licence will be issued. The process will take approximately 6 weeks.

Temporary pavement licence

Alternatively, if you need to speed up the process, you could apply for a temporary pavement licence which was introduced to help businesses during the recovery period. This fast track process is 14 working days in total.

Please note: this licence is only valid until September 2022, then you will need to apply for a pavement cafe licence to continue operating your cafe on the pavement.

Safety and access for pedestrians

Outdoor cafes will normally be allowed on pavements and other areas where there is public access.

On a normal street there must be at least 1.8 metres (6 feet) between the carriageway and the front of the pavement cafe to allow pedestrians to pass by safely. On streets with high pedestrian usage, there must remain at least 2.75 metres (9 feet) of unobstructed space.

Each case will be judged on its merits and the unobstructed space will be set between 1.8 and 2.75 metres according to the frequency of pedestrian usage. Certain exceptions may apply to streets such as Fishergate for example.

In a pedestrianised area there must be at least 3.6 metres (12 feet) of unobstructed space in front of the pavement cafe area. If your pavement cafe is directly in front of your premises there must be a 1.5 metre wide (5 feet) unobstructed corridor to the shop entrance at all times.

If your pavement cafe is directly outside your shop-front then a physical barrier of not less than 0.6 metres (2 feet) height must be provided to guide people with disabilities around the area. These barriers must not be permanently fixed to the ground or pavement and must be of a design agreed by the Council. Examples could include ropes and posts, planting boxes and flower tubs.

Tables, chairs and any associated structures must be moved from the area after trading hours, but before 7pm on Police Instructions.

Customer health and safety

Pigeons and other birds could be a potential health hazard in some areas of the city centre.

In all locations table umbrellas or canopies will be essential to minimise this risk. The Environmental Health Department will be able to advise you on this by telephoning 01772 906907

It is important to keep an outdoor cafe looking neat and tidy to attract customers. Tables, chairs and the outdoor cafe area must be cleaned regularly and food debris and other waste removed immediately.

Food and drink must be transferred from indoor premises to the outdoor area by waitress or waiter service.

Noise disturbance, litter or smells, which are a nuisance to other premises, are not acceptable and amplified music will not be permitted. All tables, chairs and structures relating to the pavement cafes must be approved by the Council.

General Conditions

Pavement cafe consents will initially be granted for a 12 month period to enable the Council to ensure that these guidelines are being followed.

For outdoor cafes on pavements, proof of indemnification against all claims, injuries or accidents with public liability cover up to £5 million for any one event will be required.

Preston City Council reserves the right to charge a rental fee if your proposed outdoor cafe is on its land.

The granting of a licence for establishing an outdoor cafe does not permit the sale of alcohol within the outdoor cafe area Separate licensing arrangements apply.

Preston City Council will not be liable for any loss of business or other disruption caused by third parties including private contractors or works by utility services companies.

Renewing your licence

The licence is renewable annually. Please seek renewal 4 weeks prior to expiry of the licence. A fee is applicable.   

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