Changes to planning and licensing laws should help the city’s hospitality industry recover from the Covid-19 lockdown.
The government’s business and planning bill will make it easier for premises serving food and drink, such as bars, restaurants and pubs, to seat and serve customers outdoors.
And with Brighton & Hove offering one of the highest numbers of food and drink premises outside London, this could be hugely beneficial for dozens of local businesses.
Fast track process
The bill introduces a new, temporary, ‘fast-track process’ to enable businesses to obtain pavement licences, and place tables and chairs on the public highway outside their premises to help them increase trade while complying with physical distancing guidelines.
The new temporary licences can be issued in 14 days, rather than the current 28 day period. They would normally cost £100 but, in order to help businesses further, we have agreed to suspended fees until April next year.
The temporary legislation will last until 30 September 2021.
The new licences can still include conditions and can be revoked following any breaches, or if the highway is no longer suitable for this use.
Off sales and delivery services
Before awarding a temporary pavement licence, Highway Enforcement Officers will assess each site and consult with colleagues in Environmental Health and Sussex Police.
The bill also provides licensed premises with an opportunity to provide ‘off sales’ and delivery services.
Conditions around door staff and ID checking still apply, and premises must agree to uphold the licensing objectives.
Premises applying to place tables and chairs outside must put a notice in their window of their intention and residents can make representations during the seven day consultation period.
Support for small local businesses
Councillor Steve Davis, deputy chair of the licensing committee, said: “Councillors agreed to these changes to support small, local business who need our support to recover from the pandemic.
"Both for visitor safety, and for our traders, the option of outside seating will be welcome. The council is suspending fees for the licence required until next year.
“The outdoor, café culture of many parts of our city, including the North Laine and the Lanes attract many visitors and residents each year, who enjoy visiting our city’s many independent businesses.
"We also ask our traders to consider how outdoor layouts can support access for residents with disabilities and ensure road safety.
"We know Covid-19 will continue to strain our city’s tourist and visitor economy, so it’s essential that our open spaces are more accessible and welcoming to all.”
Thumbnail picture by Adam Bronkhorst