The UK Government has been busy creating as well as amending policies and procedures to assist pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality businesses to successfully get back up and running after being closed due to COVID-19.

In my previous article I referred to the possible introduction of a new Pavement Licence which would allow operators to obtain permission to put tables and chairs on the public highway. This is included in the Business and Planning Bill which should shortly receive Royal Assent after all the House of Lords proposed amendments were allowed through by the Commons.

Below is a summary of the amendments that have been made in the House of Lords:

Pavement Licence

The following updates have been added to the Pavement Licence:

  • Authorities must have regard to the needs of disabled people when considering whether to grant a pavement licence which is much the same under the normal Highways Act procedures.
  • Non-smoking areas will be provided by businesses that are granted pavement licences, although I am not sure that this will make any difference to non-smokers.
  • Local authorities will be able to delegate decisions about pavement licences to sub-committees or to officials, and regulations issued by Government will be laid before Parliament.

Off-sales of alcohol

The following updates have been made relating to the off-sales of alcohol to combat antisocial behaviour:

  • The Bill now limits off-sales to 11 pm at the latest, and any new permissions will not allow the sale of alcohol for consumption in outdoor areas of the premises that are already restricted by the premises licence.

The idea of this is that making off-sales of alcohol easier will help the hospitality industry to recover more quickly, but in a way that does not encourage antisocial behaviour.

New changes

Some extra additions have also been added to the Bill, as follows:

  • The extension of planning permission will be increased by one month. This is a modest extension, but it will provide further certainty and reassurance to developers and local authorities that planning permissions will not lapse unnecessarily as a result of the pandemic.
  • In response to the report by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, any extension to the provisions can be made only when it is necessary or appropriate for a purpose linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

The new system takes effect until the end of September 2021.

Once the Bill is given the Royal Assent, it is over to the local authorities across England and Wales to implement the new system via their own respective procedures.

For further guidance and advice on the Business and Planning Bill, please contact Gareth Hughes using the details below.

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This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.