Dining Out-Out

18th August 2020

As the constraints of lockdown begin to ease, many of us are keen to resume our ‘normal’ lives, pre-pandemic. We’ve been looking forward to catching up over coffee again, reuniting with loved ones at our local pubs or going out for a meal to celebrate together and the time has at last arrived although it does look a little different.

The government has issued extensive advice in order for the hospitality sector to reopen its doors since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown restrictions. To ensure their facilities are as safe as possible for both employees and customers alike, the guidance comprises a set of rules restaurateurs should be operating under to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, these include: table service only, tables of no more than six people, one way systems and tables that are at least two metres apart or less so long as there are screens in between them. Most of these conditions require more space, and therefore means fewer paying customers, placing further strain upon an industry that has been hit hard by lockdown. However, the planning system may be able to offer a little relief…

Bell Cornwell often deal with tables and chairs licence applications on behalf of our clients so they are able to locate tables and chairs outside their restaurants, pubs and cafes. A license is required to seat hungry diners in front of their building even if you own the land. To obtain a licence from the local authority, a plan is needed to show the number of tables and, if approved, the license is granted for the following 12 months. If you do not own the land outside the premises, seating there is still a possibility but you would need to apply for planning permission as well as a licence so you can use the public highway.

Through the new Business and Planning Act 2020, the government has introduced a capped application fee of £100 which includes faster consultation and decision dates, and where planning permission is needed it will now be deemed (automatically given) through the license process. This truly will simplify and speed up the process.

Going al fresco could be a really resourceful option for restaurateurs, café and pub owners to extend their facilities and increase their provision closer to the original capacity of their internal facilities. We recommend this as an excellent opportunity for our clients and expect to see a rise in applications for tables and chairs to be located outside.

If this issue is of interest to you, contact one of the team today to discuss the requirements and potential.

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