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Pavement cafés

Temporary process for pavement café licence applications

We issue licences for pavement cafés in Belfast. We have introduced a temporary process for licence applications to help businesses recover during coronavirus (COVID-19). Business operators must ensure they are familiar with government legislation and coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance. They must adhere to all requirements relevant to their workplace, to protect the health and safety of staff and customers.  This includes social distancing advice.  

Types of premises requiring a pavement café licence

A pavement café licence authorises a person who operates a business supplying food or drink (in or from premises) to place furniture on a public area for use by customers. This includes cafés, restaurants, pubs, retail outlets providing refreshments, takeaways and supermarkets with a deli counter.

Pavement café licence fees

Due to coronavirus (COVID-19), we have waived application fees for temporary pavement café licences.

Guidance for pavement café licence applications

We have published advice on what we will consider appropriate for a pavement café licence including:

  • pedestrian and vehicular access
  • size and layout
  • likely disturbance to other businesses or residents
  • furniture design
  • safety issues 

Before submitting an application, please read our guidance to check if your proposal will meet all the criteria. You can contact us to discuss your proposals before you apply.

Licence application form

You can download a licence application form:

To request an application form and guidance information:, you can contact us by email: pavementcafes@belfastcity.gov.uk

We can send you the application form and guidance by post or email.

Applying for a pavement café licence

You can send your completed application form with the relevant documents by email to pavementcafes@belfastcity.gov.uk or post:

Building Control
Ground Floor
Cecil Ward Building
4-10 Linenhall Street
Belfast
BT2 8BP

Documents supporting a licence application

You must send us certain documents with your application form.

Site location map

You must provide a map (preferably Ordnance Survey) showing the proposed pavement café area marked in red and the adjoining streets and properties.

Proposed café plan

You must provide a plan of the proposed pavement café area, the streetscape and all utilities and services including lampposts, bollards, fire hydrants, manholes, cycle stands, litter bins and any other items of street furniture located within the immediate vicinity. The dimensions of the proposed pavement café area must also be shown.

There are examples of pavement café plans in our guidance information.

Details of the furniture

We will need details of the number, materials and types of chairs, tables, umbrellas to be provided in the café. It would be helpful if you include photographs, manufacturer, detailed brochures of proposed furniture or photographs of existing furniture.

Public liability insurance

Public liability insurance cover with minimum indemnity of £5m will be required (details are provided in in our guidance information).

Application by a licensed premises

A premises licensed under the Licensing (NI) Order 1996 must provide details of their Liquor Licence to assist us process the application and to enable us to notify the court if your application is granted. The pavement café area will be treated as part of the licensed premises.

Management plan

If the café is to be located away from the main premises or patrons or staff will need to cross a public pavement to reach the café area, you must provide a management plan. The plan must outline how this will be done to protect the safety of staff, patrons and other people using the pavement.

Public notice  

You must fix a public notice to the premises on the day you apply to us. The notice must be positioned so the public can see it for 28 days. Interested parties can make representations to us about your licence application.
We suggest that you take a photograph showing the public notice in place and send us the photograph with your application.

We will publish licence applications on our web site until the end of the period allowed for representations.

Our guidance information includes a draft public notice template.

Consulting other organisations

We recommend businesses discuss their proposals with adjacent property occupiers to inform them of the pavement café application.

When assessing your application we will also consult:

  • DfI Roads
  • Police Service for Northern Ireland where the premises are licensed to sell alcohol
  • other council departments, organisations or individuals as appropriate

Hours of operation

We will set the days and hours of use for the pavement café area. We take into account location, likely disturbance to local residents, street cleaning or other businesses and representations from interested parties.

We usually grant pavement café licences for set hours between 8 am and 11 pm and will be reflective of the normal operating hours of the business. If the premises are licensed under the Licensing Order, a licence will not be issued beyond 11.30pm, regardless of the additional operating hours that may apply to the premises.

Granting or refusing a licence application

We consider each application on its own merits. But it may not always be possible to accommodate pavement cafés in all locations due to factors such as visual impact, width restrictions, obstructions or heavy pedestrian flow.
If there are objections to the granting of the licence from other interested parties such as DfI Roads, PSNI or other local businesses, we must take these into consideration before an application can be granted.

Objections to a licence application

If we receive objections to an application which are not resolved through mediation, the application will be referred to our Licensing Committee for further consideration. If this happens, both you and anyone who objects to your application, will have the opportunity to present a case to the committee.

If your application is refused, you can appeal the decision to the Magistrate's Court within 21 days of being notified of our decision. Licence-holders may also appeal a decision to suspend or revoke a licence or vary the area and conditions of a licence (as an alternative to revocation), or to limit the duration of a licence.

Timescales

You should allow a minimum of 28 days from the date of receipt of a valid application for us to process your application and to receive any representations that may be made.

We consult DfI Roads and, in most cases, the Police Service of Northern Ireland when considering pavement café licensing applications. We must take into account any observations they make. We also give other interested parties an opportunity to express their views before we make our final decision.

When a licence is granted

When we grant a licence, you will receive formal confirmation from us.

A temporary pavement café licence is granted for up to 12 months. This licence has standard conditions such as:

  • days and hours of use
  • the maintenance of good order whilst the pavement café is operating
  • the pavement café is operated in a manner ensuring there is no safety risk, nuisance, public health issue or detriment to amenity caused to other road users or nearby premises
            
Contact us
Building control
028 9027 0650
Building Control
Ground Floor
Cecil Ward Building
4-10 Linenhall Street
Belfast
BT2 8BP