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Permanent pavement café licensing scheme now operational in city

Date: 06 Feb 2024

Councillor McKeown stands on a pavement in city centre with a poster promoting council's pavement cafe scheme

Belfast City Council is now operating a permanent pavement café licensing scheme for local hospitality and retail businesses wanting to place furniture on a public area outside their premises for use by their customers.

A temporary scheme had been introduced In June 2020 during the recovery period following the Covid-19 lockdown.

Council carried out a public consultation last October and November on the change to a permanent scheme receiving feedback from existing licensees, local business community, groups representing people with a disability and the general public.

The permanent scheme is now operational with a transition and implementation period up to the end of April 2024.

The permanent scheme is similar to the temporary one, but fees have been introduced and standard licence conditions have been revised.

Councillor Gary McKeown, Chair of the council’s Licensing Committee, said: “Pavement cafés have an important role to play in our city and bring a real buzz to our streets, so we want to ensure that this will continue in a permanent and sustainable way that can deliver for residents and visitors, as well as hospitality businesses.

"We want our city to be as welcoming and enjoyable as possible, and enabling pavement cafés to operate is part of this.

“We opened our public consultation and online survey in early October and have received useful feedback from the public, existing licensees, the local business community, and groups representing people with a disability and older people.

“We will continue to engage on the permanent pavement café licensing scheme to assist with any matters relating to the scheme. More information on the scheme can be found at

As part of ongoing engagement, an information session for pavement café operators and hospitality businesses is taking place in City Hall on Thursday 15 February.

At the session, the application process will be explained as well as requirements for operating a pavement café licence. Attendees can also speak to council staff about their individual premises.

To find out more about the permanent pavement café licensing scheme, visit

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