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Streets, roads and pavements

Pavement café licences

To put tables and chairs outside your premises 'on the highway', you need a licence.

The government has enacted changes to pavement café licensing under the Business and Planning Act 2020 and the associated Pavement licences: guidance. These changes aim to offer a streamlined process for pavement café licences.

Pavement café licences

To place tables and chairs outside your premises on the highway, you will need:

  • a pavement café licence under the Business and Planning Act 2020 process

This process enables you to apply for a licence (not beyond the end of 30 September 2023), under the Business and Planning Act 2020.

If you wish to apply for a pavement café licence under Business and Planning Act 2020, you will need to:

  • refer to our guidance notes to help you complete the application
  • complete and return our pavement café application form

Apply for a pavement café licence

Please note that from 1 October 2022, licences will be granted free of charge for a maximum period of 3 months, expiring no later than 31 December 2022.

This is to facilitate the upcoming consultation on our guidance notes and ensure that licences valid from 1 January 2023 comply with the updated guidance.

Consultation on our guidance notes

On 22 November 2022, City of York Council’s Executive considered proposed changes to the Council’s pavement café licensing guidance. The changes recommended for approval by Full Council at the 15 December 2022 meeting are summarised below.

If you are a business with a pavement café currently licensed on a footway/pavement or if you are considering applying for a licence on a footway, the proposed changes are likely to affect your business. If approved, these changes will take effect from January 2023.

Feedback on the recommended changes can be provided until 9 December 2022, by email at or by post at Traffic Management – Café licensing, Economy and Place Directorate, West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA.

Summary of changes recommended for approval by the Council’s Executive on 22 November 2022

  1. Change to the rules on licensing cafés on footways (pavement) in the pedestrianised area and on Fossgate. If approved, this change will mean that cafés cannot be licensed on a footway (pavement) unless a clear 1.5m width remains on the footway for highway users to get past. This clear width requirement will be increased to 2m in high footfall areas (for example at busy junctions, pedestrian crossings or near bus stops). The only exception to this rule would be in pedestrianised streets with level access between the footway and the carriageway (for example Coney Street), where licences may authorise cafés to cover the full width of the footway.
  2. Café areas will only be allowed in on-street parking bays (for example on Micklegate) where sufficient parking and loading capacity remains and the café area can be protected from passing traffic (if required).The licence holder will be required to cover all associated costs (for example changes to the permanent Traffic Regulation Order, changes to the kerb line/protection measures).
  3. The named licence holder will be required to have completed the Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) Awareness E-learning course. The course is available free of charge online and takes approximately 45 minutes to complete.
  4. The guidance document will be updated to include:
    1. Strengthened requirements for barriers with tapping rails to enclose pavement café areas;
    2. Access width requirement within the pavement café area; increased from 1.2m to 1.5m to enable access to the premises;
    3. Enforcement process to follow two letters (notices) rather than three;
    4. Reintroduction of the £100/year licence charge;
    5. Additional information on how to set up the pavement café area to be provided with the guidance and support provided by council officers; and
    6. Additional information to be provided to licence holders on their duties under the Equality Act.
  5. Set up a regular panel for York groups and communities to provide feedback on their lived experience of pavement cafés in York.

Further information about the Executive meeting and the recommended changes is available online. see Item 7. You can also watch the webcast, Executive - Tuesday, 22 November 2022 5.30 pm, Item 7, from recording of the meeting.

Footstreet hours

The Executive also decided to postpone a statutory consultation on permanently extending footstreet hours until 7.00pm, until elected members have had the opportunity to consider the lived experience of the pavement cafés under the new guidance.

The consultation will also be postponed until there is more clarity about the long-term legislative framework and progress that has been made in delivering the City Centre Access Action Plan.

This means that from 1 October 2022, footstreet hours will revert to the pre-COVID-19 times of 10.30am to 5.00pm. This will be extended to 8.00pm during St Nicholas Fair and the Christmas period in November and December 2022.

Where pavement café licences rely on the hours of operation for the pedestrian area, licences will be reviewed as businesses apply for their new licences to be in place for 1 October 2022, and the licensed hours reduced accordingly.

Application process

Once we receive your application and supporting documents, we will check that we have all the information we need. We will aim to let you know the next working day if we require any additional information.

After you have sent us your application, you must display the standard notice template in your premises’ window or on your door without delay, for businesses, organisations and members of the public to be able to read the notice. The notice must remain in a location visible to all for the 7 days of the consultation period.

When the consultation period is over, we will consider all the information you submitted together with the consultation responses we receive and determine your application within 7 days.

Renewal of a pavement café licence granted before July 2020

If you already have a pavement café licence (granted before July 2020, with a planning application), you need to renew it every year. To renew your licence, you will need to:

  • complete and return our pavement café application form

Apply for a pavement café licence

Changing the conditions of an existing licence

If you wish to apply to change or vary the conditions of your existing pavement café licence you will need to submit a new application licence under the Business and Planning Act 2020. We cannot vary an existing pavement café licence granted under the Business and Planning Act 2020. All applications for a pavement café licence under the Business and Planning Act 2020 must follow the above process.

Also see

Pavement Café Licences

West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA