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

    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. 

  • How to apply

    You can download a licence application form:

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

    Send your completed application form with the relevant documents by email to or post it to:

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

  • Documents needed

    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 8am and 11pm 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 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


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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