Licence - street cafés

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To place tables, chairs or other temporary furniture on the pavement you require a licence from your local authority. This is to ensure that it is properly set up, licensed and operated so that it benefits the business and does not cause a problem for other users of the street. Conditions may be attached and a fee is payable.

Enforcement action will be taken against any person who places items on the highway which have not been licensed by the council.

How to apply

You can apply online:  

Apply for a licence to place tables and chairs in the road

Licences must be renewed annually. Full costs are applicable.


Fees are £116 plus an amount based on the number of chairs.


You may have to obtain frontage and walkway consent first. This can be done as part of the application process.

Regulation summary

The relevant legislation is the Highways Act 1980.

Application process

Street cafés that are not on privately-owned land must be licensed by the council in its role as the highways authority. We take three factors into account when considering an application:

  • the amount of space your café will remove from the public highway
  • how your proposed café will look when it is up and running
  • the effect it may have on local residents, workers, shoppers and visitors

Any other relevant authorities must be consulted. Public notice of the application must be given detailing the proposal and deadline for representations. All representations received must be considered.

Consents must not be unreasonably withheld.

You must include the following with your application:

  • public liability insurance.
  • liquor licence (including any conditions/undertakings).
  • a location plan – sketch a plan indicating:
    • the area on the highway in which the café equipment would be placed, relating it to your premises
    • the position of any street furniture such as lamp columns, sign posts, bollards and so on
    • dimensions (where possible)
  • layout – sketch a plan showing the layout of your café items within the area

If your application is successful you will be required to enter into an agreement with the council to place items on the highway under the provisions of the Highways Act 1980.

You must provide public liability insurance to the value of £5 million. Where necessary you must extend liquor licences to cover the licensed area. We will give you more information about these requirements if your application is successful.

How long will it take to process my application?

We aim to process your application within 49 days of receiving it. As it is in the public interest that we process your application before it can be granted, please contact us if you have not heard from us within this period.

How to appeal

Please contact us in the first instance. An appointed arbitrator will determine if consent has been unreasonably withheld.

Complaints about street cafés

If you wish to complain about a street café, we would always advise that you contact the trader first, preferably by letter (with proof of delivery). If that hasn't worked, and you are located in the UK, Citizens Advice consumer service will give you advice. From outside the UK, please contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

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