Other Council Policies

Pavement Café License Policy

Policy Number 1
Version Number 1
Date of Screening of Policy 31/01/23
EQIA Recommended? No
Date Adopted by Council 06/03/23
Date Policy Revised  

1. Background

A Pavement Café License authorises a person who carries on a business involving the supply of food or drink (in or from premises) to place temporary furniture (tables, chairs and other furniture that can be removed from the area within 20 minutes.) on a public area for use by customers. This includes cafés, restaurants, pubs, retail outlets providing refreshments, takeaways, etc.

The Council has a duty to regulate pavement licencing in the Borough under the Licencing of Pavement Cafés Act (NI) 2014, which came into operation on 1 October 2016.

2. When a License is required

Business operators must apply for a pavement café license if they wish to place temporary pavement furniture on a pavement in a public place for use by their customers.

A public place is a place in the open air to which the public has access, without payment, ‘as of right’. The Council consider that all pavements and associated land which have been adopted by Department for Infrastructure – Roads (DfI- Roads) as part of the public road network are a public place.

The following areas are not considered a public place and are exempt from needing a Pavement Café License:-

  • Market area - a pavement café license will NOT be required if the tables, chairs, etc. are  placed in a market area on market day.
  • Private land - outdoor café areas that are sited on privately owned land do not require a license. It is considered that land owned by NI Housing Executive and Council is private land. This exception will also apply to private land which the public have an implied right of access to such as shopping centres and retail parks.

​3. Application process

The Council will require that the following documents be submitted with all pavement café license applications:-

  • Appropriate Fee – Mid and East Antrim Borough Council currently do not charge an application fee for grant or variation of a Pavement Café License (subject to review)
  • Location plan
    Applicants must supply a 1:500 scale plan clearly outlining the premises and the location of the proposed outdoor seating area. This should outline the application site in red and land in the applicant’s ownership in blue.
  • Site plan and pavement café details
    Applicants should also provide a site plan showing the proposed layout of the payment café area. This should be an accurate measured drawing showing the overall size of the café area and how it relates to the premises, the rest of the footpath and the remaining streetscape. The plan should, for example, include the proposed pedestrian corridor, entrance to the premises and existing street furniture in the immediate vicinity (such as lampposts and litterbins etc.).
  • Details of the temporary furniture, chairs, tables, to be used including type, numbers, dimensions and details of type of enclosure/barriers the applicant intends to use etc.
  • For sites which are in a remote location (ie not immediately outside the applicants premises) a management plan for how the pavement café area will operate is required.

The Council will require that a public liability insurance policy (for a minimum value of £5 million) covering the business including any pavement café area is in place as a condition of the license. For any premises that have a liquor license, a copy of this will also be required.

Further details about how to make an application are available in the Pavement Café License Guidance document, available from the Public Protection, Health and Wellbeing Department.

If the Council has not received all the required documentation as listed within 3 months of the original application it will close the application.  The application can be resubmitted at a future time when all the necessary documents are available.

Until such times as the Council approve the grant of a new application or the variation of an existing pavement café license, the area or extended area (in case of a variation) should not be used as a pavement café. Therefore, tacit consent will not apply to pavement café license applications.

4. Consultation process

As part of the application for the grant or variation of a pavement café license, all applications must go through both statutory and public consultation.

Council will consult with the following organisations as part of statutory consultation regarding the details of pavement café license application:

  • Department for Infrastructure (Roads) to ensure that any implications for vehicular traffic, pedestrians and public safety impacts are properly taken into account; and
  • Police Service for Northern Ireland where the premises is licensed to sell alcohol;
  • Planning Service; and
  • any other Council Department, organisations or individuals as appropriate.  

For the public consultation, the Council will list the details of all new pavement café license applications on the Council website under Pavement Café License section.

Applicants are required to fix a public notice to the premises to advise that they have made an application to council.  This should be done on the day the application is sent to the Council.

The notice must be positioned so as to be visible and legible to the public for 28 days.

The Council will accept comments or objections relating to advertised licenses for period of 28 days from when the application is displayed.

5. License Approval

The Council will carry out a site visit to all premises for the grant and/or variation of pavement café licenses. The Council will consider the site alongside any applicable guidance produced by Department for Communities and DfI –Roads.

For sites that do not meet the normal suitability criteria the Council may decide to arrange a site visit with DfI-Roads and the premises owner to consider the issues.

The Council will also take into account any views, comments or objections made as part of public and statutory consultation process.

The final decision on whether to approve or refuse any pavement café license application will be made by appropriate Council committee.

Further to the approval of a license it will be issued without an expiry date; in other words they are deemed to be ‘open-ended’. There is no periodic renewal process. Licenses will only expire once the business changes ownership or the named licensee leaves the business (see point 7 below).

If a license is refused, the applicant can appeal the decision to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of the decision being made.

6. Premises that serve alcohol

Any business which holds a liquor license and subsequently applies for a pavement café license can extend the liquor license to include the approved pavement café area.

The Council will make the local court office aware of Pavement Café licenses granted to premises with liquor licenses.

The Council have the power to add an alcohol condition to pavement café license of any premises with a liquor license. The effect of this condition is to prevent the consumption of any alcohol in the pavement café area for the premises.   An alcohol condition can only be issued if the appropriate Council Committee if it is satisfied that permitting persons to consume intoxicating liquor when using furniture on the area covered by the Pavement Café license would be likely to result in disorder.   

7. Change of ownership/licensee

The legislation does not allow for the transfer of Pavement Café licenses, so if a business changes ownership, or the named licensee leaves the business, the license will no longer be valid. A new license application must be made, to allow the pavement café area to continue to be used.

The Council may permit the pavement café at the premises to continue operating within the previously approved area while a new application is processed and approved. However the new license application must be made within 4 weeks of ownership changing.

8. Complaints

The Council will investigate any complaints received about pavement cafes. Depending on the nature of the complaint, it may be necessary to carry out a joint investigation with PSNI and/or DfI- Roads.

9. Breach of License conditions

If the holder of a Pavement Café license fails to comply with the conditions attached to a license, the Council will take enforcement action in-line with the Councils Enforcement Policy. An example of a breach is that they are operating the pavement café area without barriers in place. The business will be made aware of any issues in the first instance with a verbal warning and advice on how to ensure the conditions are complied with. If the breach continues after the verbal warning, then a written warning will be issued. If the failure to comply with conditions continues, a final warning letter will be sent. This will advise that if the non-compliance is observed, the Council may move to suspend the pavement café license.

All warnings given to a licensee will remain valid for a period of up to five years.

10. Monitoring of Licenses

The Council will carry out a programme of monitoring visits to all pavement cafes to ensure that they are complying with license conditions.

11. Suspension of license – failure to meet conditions

If a licensee fails to comply with pavement café license conditions on repeated occasions the Council will move to suspend the license. The licensee will normally receive two written warnings with a further 21 day notice period before a suspension is issued. The suspension will remove permission for the business to use the pavement area to place tables and chairs on for a period as determined by the Council.

The appropriate Director and Head of Service will have delegated powers to suspend a pavement café license. The suspension will normally last for a minimum period of 30 days, but this may be extended.

A license holder can appeal the suspension of a license to the Magistrates Court within 21 days.

12. Revoking a License

If a Pavement Café License holder has carried out repeated and sustained breaches of pavement café license conditions or has breached a previous suspension of the license, Council will move to permanently revoke the license. The decision to revoke a license will only be made by an appropriate Council Committee. The decision can be appealed to Magistrates Court within 21 days.

13. Suspension of License – Due to building/road works

Independent of any enforcement action, the Council has the power to suspend a license if it is made aware of road or street works, which would prevent or make unsafe the area normally used as a pavement café license. The Council will normally give 21 days’ notice of any suspension but reserve the right to suspend a license with less than the full 21 days’ notice, where circumstances require it.

14. Unlicensed Pavement Cafes

If the Licensing Team becomes aware of a premises placing furniture on public pavement without a license they will in first instance informally approach the business. They will be advised of the requirement to apply for a pavement café license and given details of how to make an application.

If the business operator fails to submit an application within a reasonable time of the initial contact and continues to place furniture on the pavement a warning letter advising of the need to apply for a license will be issued. If an application is not received within a reasonable time period a final warning letter will be issued.

15. Seizure of furniture

The Council have the power to seize any furniture that has been placed on an area of public land or footpath by a premise operator that does not hold a pavement café license. The appropriate Council Committee will approve the seizure of pavement café furniture if a business operator has not applied for a license after advice and subsequent warnings issued by Council in accordance with their enforcement policy. Where Council has approved the seizure of pavement café furniture, the business operator with be notified that the furniture will be seized by Council, at a future date of its choosing, if the furniture continues to be placed on public footpath.

When any furniture is seized, the business operator will be given information about how they can reclaim it.

Under the legislation, Council is entitled to recover the reasonable costs of seizing and storing the furniture. The business owner will be required to pay these costs before they can collect their furniture. The following charges are applicable :-



Seizure and storage of furniture for first week or part of a week  



Subsequent storage of furniture per week/part week

£25 (up to maximum of £100)

If after 3 months, the business has not reclaimed the furniture the Council can dispose of or sell the furniture.

16. Prosecution

If after the warnings listed above have been issued and/or a business continues to operate an unlicensed pavement café after furniture has been seized, the Council have the option of instigating legal proceedings against the business.

The appropriate Council Committee will decide on the instigation of any prosecution for any premise that operates a pavement café without a valid license.