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Licences and permits

Pavement cafés

  • Temporary process for pavement café licence applications

    We issue licences for pavement cafés in Belfast.

    We previously introduced a temporary process for pavement café licence applications, with no associated fee, to help businesses recover during coronavirus (COVID-19). We have now agreed to extend this temporary licence process until 30 September 2023. So, if you already have been issued with a pavement café licence under this temporary scheme, you will receive a new licence from us which will be valid until 30 September 2023. 

    The temporary scheme will be subject to review to determine how the Council will licence Pavement Cafés after September 2023 when consideration will be given to adopting permanent licensing arrangements and associated fees.

    If you operate a pavement café and haven’t yet applied to us for a pavement café licence under this temporary process, we would encourage you to do so. 

    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
    • supermarkets with a deli counter
  • How much does a pavement café licence cost?

    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. 

  • How to apply for a pavement café licence

    You can apply online and submit the required documentation later by emailing

    Apply for a pavement café licence 

    This is a temporary scheme.

    We can also send you the application form and guidance information if you email, or by post if you call 028 9027 0650

  • Documents needed

    You must send us certain documents with your application form.

    If you are applying online, you must make sure you have these documents ready to upload.

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. Public liability insurance

    Public liability insurance cover with minimum indemnity of £5m will be required. You must send us a public liability insurance declaration completed by both yourself and your insurance company or broker.

    More details are provided in in our guidance information.

    Print and complete our public liability insurance notice

    1. 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.

    1. 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 website until the end of the period allowed for representations.

    Our guidance information includes a draft public notice template.

    View a draft public notice for a pavement café licence application

  • 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.

  • 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, other businesses and representations from interested parties.

    We usually grant pavement café licences for set hours between 8am and 11pm but consideration will be given to alternative times that are reflective of the normal operating hours of the business.

  • 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 and appeals


    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.

  • Objecting to or supporting a licence application

    If you want to object to or support an application for a pavement café licence, you must send us a written submission before the closing date for objections or support. You must outline your reasons for objecting to or supporting the pavement café.

    You can email your submission to or post:

    The Building Control Manager
    Building Control Service
    Ground floor
    Cecil Ward Building
    4-10 Linenhall Street
    BT2 8BP

  • Report an issue with a pavement café

    If you want to make a complaint or raise an issue about an existing pavement café (licensed or unlicensed) please email  or call 028 9027 0650, and we will investigate.

  • Pavement café licence applications

    When a business in Belfast applies for a pavement café licence, we publish information about their application. You can support or object to a pavement café application. There is a deadline for objecting or supporting an application.

    If you would like to see a licence application, email 

  • Licences applied for or issued

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Contact us

For more information and advice, get in touch.

028 9027 0650

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

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