Following the publication of the Prime Minister’s roadmap on 22 February, where it was announced that hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people outdoors from no earlier than 12 April, the Communities Secretary has shared the below letter with all MPs outlining the measures which will remain in place over the coming months.
Last summer, the Government introduced measures to support hospitality businesses to reopen safely, and the planning changes put in place last year have been a lifeline to many businesses and will stay for the summer of 2021.
The Communities Secretary confirmed the extension of pavement licences for a further 12 months, making it easier and cheaper for pubs, restaurants and cafes to facilitate al fresco dining with outside seating, tables and street stalls to serve food and drinks. The Government will also support communities to hold events like summer fairs, car-boot sales, and markets, without the need for planning permission.
The automatic right to provide takeaways and deliveries created at the start of the pandemic is going to continue, as will the right for pubs to have marquees without planning permission for up to 56 days. To remind you of the freedoms the Government has put in place, the Communities Secretary has set out all of the measures that were introduced below:
Al fresco dining
We introduced a simplified route for pubs, restaurants and cafes to obtain a temporary pavement licence to place furniture including outdoor tables and seating on the highway, allowing them to increase their outdoor capacity quickly and at a low cost. We introduced these pavement licence provisions on 22 July 2020 in the Business and Planning Act 2020. They include a capped application fee of £100 and a 10-working day consultation and determination period.
We have made clear in the pavement licence guidance that we expect local authorities to grant licences for 12 months or more unless there are good reasons not to, such as plans for future changes in use of road space. Therefore, unless there are very good reasons, we would expect licences granted under these provisions to continue to apply into this summer so that businesses do not have to reapply or be charged a further application fee when they are able to re-open to serve customers outdoors. These temporary provisions are currently due to expire on 30 September 2021, but to give further certainty to businesses I will be introducing secondary legislation to extend these provisions for a further 12 months.
I have strongly encouraged local authorities to plan for outdoor dining and make all necessary changes to local high streets and squares so this is as convenient as possible for businesses and members of the public.
Freedom to use land for community events and outdoor hospitality
Last year we provided greater flexibility for businesses to hold outdoor events such as summer fairs or motorsports on land without the need for a planning application, while events such as car-boot sales, or people or businesses such as pubs wishing to set up marquees will also be exempt. We have increased the number of days allowed for such temporary events from 28 to 56, and in November extended this provision until 31 December 2021.
We have also introduced a new temporary right, extended to March 2022, that allows local authorities, either by themselves or by others on their behalf, to use land to hold a market without having to apply for planning permission.
Finally, we also introduced measures to support restaurants, drinking establishments such as pubs and cafes to serve takeaway food when they were otherwise closed due to coronavirus restrictions. These measures will continue to apply until March 2022.
We introduced these changes to provide much needed support to hard-hit hospitality businesses. It is vital that local authorities use these measures in a pragmatic way to help support the high street, businesses and jobs, once restrictions allow them to do so.
Thank you for all you have done in your local community to help businesses prepare for a safe reopening. As we emerge from this incredibly challenging period – let’s not let bureaucracy get in the way of a great British summer for the hospitality industry.
Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP