For the majority of operators, current Pavement Licences will expire on 30 September 2023.This is in line with the end of the temporary scheme, which is expected to be replaced by a permanent regime as proposed by the Levelling- up and Regeneration Bill.
However, as a result of the delay to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, the government has proposed a further extension to the temporary provisions regime via The Business and Planning Act 2020 (Pavement Licences) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2023 which expected to be approved and become law imminently. This extends the temporary pavement licence regime on the same terms for an additional year, expiring on 30 September 2024.
Anyone wishing to maintain their pavement licences beyond 31 September 2023 will need to make an application. The current application process remains unchanged: there is a 7 to 14-day application process, so applications for further Pavement Licences must be made in good time to ensure there is no break in continuity between the expiry of a current licence and the commencement of a further licence. For licences expiring on 30 September 2023, applications must be submitted no later than 16 September 2023.
Operators in Westminster should use the City Council’s online account system for their applications. We expect the same streamlined application process for existing licences will become available nearer the time for those operators making applications on the same terms as existing licences.
Operators with existing tables and chairs consents may remain cautious about relying upon the temporary Pavement Licence regime to authorise their external seating in the long term. Whilst the proposed permanent changes to the pavement licence regime as set out in the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill continues its passage through the Houses of Commons and Lords, this is yet to be passed.
Pending such approval, the Pavement Licence regime remains temporary and, on the basis the most recent extension is passed, will end on 30 September 2024.
Operators may therefore wish to continue to renew any existing consents to mitigate the risk of refusal or re-grant on onerous terms beyond September 2024 in the event that the proposed permanency of the Pavement Licence regime does not gain the requisite approval of the Houses of Commons and Lords.
The current off sales deregulation expires on 30 September 2023.
If you are currently relying on the deregulation for off sales and will want to do so beyond 30 September 2023, you will need to make an application to vary your premises licence in good time. The government has now updated its guidance to confirm that Licensing Authorities may permit operators to apply to make permanent the existing relaxation using the minor variation process, which has a shorter consultation period, a lower fee and does not require advertisement in a local newspaper.
Thomas & Thomas Partners deal with Westminster on a daily basis and you should not hesitate to contact Alun should you have any queries regarding a licence or a licensing application.
Alun Thomas advises the SBA on licensing issues. You can find his profile and contact details here.