Pavement Cafe Licensing
Pavement cafes are becoming a familiar sight across the UK and Ireland. They can help develop a local cafe culture, which in turn can have a positive effect on urban environments, promote town and city centres, contribute to the general well-being of communities and appeal to tourists.
Tourism is a key driver for economic growth in Northern Ireland offering business opportunities to create jobs and generate wealth. Visitor attitude surveys undertaken by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board have highlighted the attractiveness of a vibrant cafe culture, especially for short breaks where shopping, good food and evening entertainment are high on the agenda.
Well-regulated pavement cafes can contribute to an excellent visitor experience, enhance the attractiveness of a local area and encourage visitors to stay longer and spend more.
In both Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, cafe, restaurant and pub owners may apply to their local council for permission to place tables and chairs on the pavement outside their premises. However, in Northern Ireland the provision of tables and chairs on the pavement is prohibited under the Roads (NI) Order 1993.
TransportNI has taken a pragmatic approach to the setting-up of pavement cafes, but this was regarded as an interim arrangement, pending introduction of a formal licensing scheme.
A public consultation was conducted in 2011 to gauge opinion on a proposal to regulate pavement cafes and introduce a licensing scheme administered by local councils. There was a very positive response to the consultation with the majority of respondents calling for councils to be given both licensing and enforcement powers.
A bill entitled, The Licensing of Pavement Cafes Act (Northern Ireland) 2014, incorporating a statutory licensing scheme, to be administered solely by district councils, was introduced into the NI Assembly in June 2013 and received Royal Assent in May 2014.
Under the provisions of The Licensing of Pavement Cafes Act (Northern Ireland) 2014, district councils may grant Pavement Cafe Licenses on such terms and conditions and subject to such restrictions as may be reasonably specified in the license.
In specifying any terms, conditions or restrictions in a license, district councils shall have regard to the guidelines which have been prepared by the Department for Communities (the Department) to assist district councils with the implementation of the statutory licensing scheme. These guidelines highlight the key legislative responsibilities of district councils including the conditions under which pavement cafe areas should operate.
The Department’s guidance document is available here.
Additionally, district councils, through the Licensing Forum Northern Ireland (LFNI), have produced a supplementary guidance to assist with the administrative procedures associated with the Act and to promote consistency of approach across Northern Ireland. However, it is not intended that this guidance should be treated as a complete and authoritative statement of the law which is contained only in the Act and Regulations made under it.
The Department has prepared guidelines to assist district councils with the implementation of the statutory licensing scheme contained in the Licensing of Pavement Cafes Act (NI) 2014.
The Guidelines for the licensing of pavement cafes act (Northern Ireland) 2014 highlight the key legislative responsibilities of district councils, the criteria to be met, and the procedures to be followed, when dealing with applications and the conditions under which pavement cafe areas should operate.
Guidance for applicants
Ards and North Down has prepared a document entitled “Guidance for Applicants” to help those intending to make an application for a Pavement Cafe License and to assist with consistency of approach and administration by the council.
A copy of the Licensing of Pavement Cafes Act (Northern Ireland) 2014 legislation is available here. Ards and North Down Borough Council application forms, 28 days notice and guidance notes are available to download below.
Should you require any further information please feel free to contact the Licensing Service on 0300 013 3333 extension 40417 or David Brown, Licensing and Regulatory Services Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org.