Hospitality bosses have welcomed news that pavement licences will be made permanent, securing the future of al fresco drinking and dining.
Ministers introduced temporary licences amid the pandemic when pubs and restaurants faced periods of restrictions on indoor service.
Under the Business and Planning Act 2020, the government made it possible for local authorities to fast track applications for venues, as well as slashing fees.
Now, the licenses will be made permanent in the Queen’s Speech, under the levelling up and regeneration bill.
Industry body heads praised the news as a “welcome boost for pubs” as businesses face a cocktail of rising costs including labour and energy.
“The past two years have been the toughest on memory for many pubs and whilst some created and refurbished outdoor spaces to host customers whilst restrictions were in place, others simply did not have the option to do so,” chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association Emma McClarkin said.
She added: “Permanent pavement licenses will give many businesses the opportunity to bring a new offering to customers and create a continental culture that will hopefully bring Britain’s high streets to life and help them thrive again.”
“In many cases, these licences enabled businesses to remain open, when otherwise they’d have been forced to close or restrict their opening hours, threatening thousands of jobs,” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls added.
She added: “Pavement licences also revealed the hospitality industry’s ingenuity and creativity, with some truly striking outdoor spaces being created across the UK – from pods to yurts – and significant levels of investment in features such as lighting and heating. We must strive for that same innovation to ensure that this wonderful opportunity for venues pays due thought to accessibility, so that all customers can benefit. Making these outdoor spaces permanent means pubs, bars and restaurants struggling to recover from the pandemic can get back on their feet much quicker.”