If you have a business selling food and drink that provides an outside seating area on the public highway, you must have a valid pavement licence.

Businesses that can apply for a licence include:

  • public houses
  • cafes
  • bars
  • restaurants
  • snack bars
  • coffee shops
  • ice cream shops
  • some entertainment venues which sell food and drink

Furniture that you can licence must be removable and related to serving, selling or consuming food or drink. This includes:

  • counters or stalls for selling or serving food or drink
  • tables, counters or shelves to place food or drink
  • chairs, benches or other forms of seating
  • umbrellas, barriers, heaters and other furniture related to outdoor consumption or food or drink

Advertising boards are not included in a pavement licence and they are not allowed on the High Street.

If you want to add permanent furniture to the highway, you must apply for permission under the Highways Act 1980.

We consider each application on individual merit. We will not process an application until you have given us all the information we need.

This also applies to variations and renewals.

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 makes the changes introduced in the Business and Planning Act 2020 permanent. This means that we can streamline the application process to allow businesses to secure these licenses quickly.

The act also introduces:

  • a standard cap on all fees
  • an increased consultation period
  • an increased decision period
  • an increase to how long the licence is valid for
  • the ability for us to remove unlicensed furniture

During the application process, we have up to 28 days to determine a valid application. This includes a mandatory 14 day public consultation period.

Full guidance for pavement licences is available on the GOV.UK website.

The fee for a pavement licence is £500 for first time applications.

The fee for a renewal is £350.

If you already have a licence with us before 31 March 2024, your licence will continue as it is until it's due for renewal. Our standard renewal fee will apply to you when you need to renew your licence.

To apply for a licence, you need to complete the application form and submit it online.

On the day you apply, you will also need to display a public notice in a prominent position next to the highway. You can download a public notice template.

As part of your application, you will need to provide:

  • a plan showing the location of the premises outlined by a red line
  • a plan showing the proposed area and furniture covered by the licence in relation to the highway. This must be to scale or include measurements on the plan
  • a copy of your public liability insurance with a minimum cover of £10 million
  • pictures showing the proposed types of furniture
  • information showing how the furniture will placed in within the area
  • evidence that you have provided notice of the application

Once we receive your application, we will:

  • acknowledge it within one working day
  • contact you via the details you have provided to take the correct payment
  • advertise your application on our website and in our Civic Centre reception
  • allow people to make comments about or object to the application
  • allow people to make representations or objections to the application

We will also send consultation letters and ask for comments from:   

  • Essex County Council Highways 
  • Essex Police
  • Essex Fire and Rescue Service
  • our planning and building control teams
  • our environmental team
  • our own city centre management
  • the Chelmsford City Centre Business Improvement Manager 
  • any other relevant people

If we do not receive any comments or objections, we will grant the licence, subject to our standard conditions. If we do receive any comments or objections, we will consider them and may add further conditions or consider refusing the application.

If we grant your licence, we will monitor your café or restaurant, to make sure you are complying with the terms of the licence.

Your licence will be valid for two years from the date we approved it.

If we do not make a decision on your application within the 28 day period, your licence will be 'deemed granted'. It will still be subject to the standard conditions. If 'deemed granted', your licence will be valid for two years, starting from the first day after the 28 day application period.

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