The City of London Corporation has agreed to continue efforts to help the hospitality sector by issuing pavement licences free of charge for suitable premises.
In July last year, the Planning and Transportation Committee agreed a bespoke approach was needed to facilitate the granting of pavement licences whilst maintaining public safety during the coronavirus pandemic.
Those measures were further refined in October and have now been extended until the end of September.
The decision comes as figures reveal the revised al fresco eating and drinking policy has been popular with Square Mile establishments.
Since August last year, a total of 58 applications were lodged for the pavement licence – of which, 40 were granted.
Of the 18 applications to be refused – seven had inadequate unobstructed footway, five were missing information, four were refused due to objections from authorities or the public and two were refused due to the proposed area being private land.
The pavement licences last six months, meaning some of the first batch to be issued are now due to expire.
The extension of the scheme, funding for which has been approved by the City Corporation’s Licencing Committee, means businesses can re-apply free of charge.
Alastair Moss, chair of the Planning and Transportation Committee at the City of London Corporation, said: “The majority of establishments which wanted to take up the offer to reinstate their pavement licences have been able to do so and it remains vitally important that these outdoor dining options are retained wherever it is appropriate.
“As soon as current government restrictions are eased, we expect to see a return of workers and visitors to an even-better Square Mile – issuing these free of charge pavement licences will mean the City can once again be enjoyed by all as the weather improves.
“We know that our world-class venues will be very excited to welcome people back and this decision will let them do so.”
Licenses have been reinstated following a case by case review considering five principles: to put safety first; to recognise the need to nurture a thriving economy in the City; no privatisation of public space; having regard to space required to queue outside premises; and having regard to new or existing public seating nearby.
A variety of factors are considered before the licenses are granted – including the width of space available, footfall of pedestrians, any queues likely to form for nearby shops and attractions and the maintaining of space for those with access needs.
Sophie Fernandes, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Licencing Committee, said: “The hospitality sector has endured very difficult times over the last few months, and we hope the continuation of al fresco dining options will give venues the flexibility they need to fully resume trading as soon as Government restrictions are eased.
“The City is home to many treasured cafes, restaurants and pubs and this decision could be what allows them to safely, comfortably and profitably re-open.”
Under current national lockdown restrictions, hospitality businesses such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs are required to remain closed with the exception of those providing food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect and drive-through.
All food and drink can be provided by delivery. The government is expected to set out a plan for exiting lockdown next week.