On June 25th, the new Business and Planning Bill was introduced to the House of Commons to make it easier for businesses to use outdoor space for trading without the need for planning permission.
The Business and Planning Bill includes temporary measures to help businesses recover and bounce back after the pandemic lockdown. The Bill includes two main provisions for operators of licenced premises: new pavement licences and provisions to allow off-sales.
The new pavement licences
The new Business and Planning Bill is designed to boost businesses such as pubs and restaurants by introducing a temporary fast-track process for these businesses to obtain permission, in the form of a “pavement licence”, from the local council.
The new Pavement Licence law will make it easier for bars and restaurants in England to serve food and drinks outdoors by allowing them to temporarily place chairs, stalls, heaters, and more furniture outside their premises. This measure also helps companies maximise their space to adhere to the government’s social distancing guidelines.
The business that can apply for a Pavement Licence are businesses that are used:
- as a public house, wine bar or other drinking establishment.
- for the sale of food or drink for consumption on or off the premises.
The application for a Pavement Licence can be made through your local authority. The local authority will accept or reject your application and can also decide what the licence will cover, for example how long the licence will last for or how much space is allowed to be utilised.
A 7-day consultation period is required but applications will be deemed to be granted if they are not determined within the 7-day determination period (which follows the 7-day consultation period.)
The licence has a minimum duration of three months but if your licence does not include an ending date, then it will expire at the end of September 2021 – if changes are not made by the Secretary of State.
Off-Sales: Alcohol licensing
As mentioned above one of the key measures in the new Business and Planning Bill is the change in the Licensing Act 2003 to allow for off-sales as a temporary measure until the end of September 2021.
The provisions will allow premises that currently have on-sales licence to sell alcohol off the premises without having to apply and with no fees. Off-sales will be allowed during the time the premises are already open, but if your business wants to extend the hours of opening then an application would be needed.
Businesses can be excluded from the off-sales alcohol licence if they have had their off sales permission rejected within the last three years.
Businesses that are reopening have the legal responsibility to protect their employees and customers, please read the government’s guidance or if you would like advice on your employment and work rights get in touch by using our contact form.