Highway licensing - shop displays, tables and chairs and advertising boards

Get a licence to display advertising or have tables and chairs outside your business.

Items on the public highway such as shop displays, advertising boards, tables and chairs, planters and pots are licensed or monitored by the Highway Enforcement Team.

Please see our Covid-19 guidance for premises with highway licences on the retail and hospitality businesses page.

If you wish to report such an item that you believe to be an obstruction please complete our obstructions on the public highway report form.

What we do

The team is working with disabled people, traders' associations, access groups and others to achieve a compromise between all users of the highway. This allows certain items to be placed on the street while still protecting access rights and improving safety.

Where we do it

The Highway Enforcement Team only has jurisdiction over the public highway. It has no authority over the very many patches of private or council property that adjoin the highway. It has no say in advertising or billboards on private land.

For control purposes, we only enforce the licensing of items on the highway inside the licensing zones. These zones are the busiest areas of the city and include most of the major shopping areas. The zones include:

  • The Lanes
  • The North Laine
  • Brunswick and Adelaide
  • George Street, Hove
  • London Road
  • Rottingdean Village Centre
  • St. James Street area of Kemptown
  • Seven Dials
  • Western Road
  • Preston Street
  • Queens Road
  • West Street
  • North Street

All traders in these areas who want to put things on the public highway need to have written permission (a licence). These licences specify where items can be placed and the maximum area that can be taken up.

You have to display a circular sticker (like a Tax Disc) in your door or window to show that you have a licence. The discs indicate where things are allowed to be placed.

On some sites metal studs or markings in paint/tape help to show the limits of licensed areas or the positions of boards. The positions are based upon the best possible compromise between the needs and rights of all highway users.

Regular visits by the council's Highway Enforcement Officers take place in all these areas to check that traders have a licence and are operating under its conditions.

The licensed highway

Items placed on the public highway outside of the licensing zones do not normally require a formal licence, however the placement and quantity of items should follow the principles of the licensing conditions. In other words, we would not allow tables and chairs to restrict the footway to less than 1.3m.

Because of the topography and history of the city, many public pavements are narrow. However, we will not license items on the public highway if there is less than 1.3m remaining. This measurement should leave a safe clear width of pavement for a wheelchair or double-buggy.

Please note that the Highway Enforcement Team has no authority over licences for buskers, street traders or pedlars. Street traders' licences and other permissions (for stalls not associated with shops, burger vans, charity collections and so on) are dealt with by the Environmental Health and licensing team. You can phone them on 01273 294 429 or visit our street trading page for more information.

Getting a licence

If you'd like to apply for a licence to place tables and chairs, an advertising board or a shop display on the public highway, please complete the appropriate application form.

A-boards and shop displays

If you'd like to place an advertising board or a shop display on the public highway please complete the appropriate application form and return to pavement.licensing@brighton-hove.gov.uk

Get an application form for an A-board or a shop display

Download an application form for a licence.

Tables and Chairs Licence

The Government has announced relaxations to planning and licensing laws to help the hospitality industry recover from the coronavirus lockdown.  The Business and Planning Bill proposes to make it easier for premises serving food and drink such as bars, restaurants and pubs to seat and serve customers outdoors through temporary changes to Highway licensing procedures and alcohol licensing. 

The Bill introduces a new, temporary, fast-track process for these businesses to obtain permission, in the form of a “pavement licence”, for the placement of furniture such as tables and chairs on the public highway outside their premises which will enable them to maximise their capacity whilst adhering to social distancing guidelines. The new legislation does not apply to A-boards or shop displays. To support businesses to reopen the Council has waived fees for outside tables and chairs licences for 2020 to 21.

All tables and chairs licences must adhere to our standard conditions Please read our Table and Chairs Licence Conditions fully before applying.

The application process under the new legislation requires that you display a 5 working day notice in your window when you apply. Download the 5-day notice, complete the required details, and display it in a prominent place. Failure to display this notice may invalidate any approved licence.

You can apply for a tables and chair licence online. 

You can also view and comment on current applications for tables and chairs licences during the notice period.


For further information please phone 01273 292071 or email pavement.licensing@brighton-hove.gov.uk.