A new government bill, which was discussed in Parliament on Monday 29 June, will mean that new temporary pavement licences can be applied for via a ‘fast-track’ application process, for a reduced fee of £100 and with a with a shortened 14-day process (5 working days for public consultation, 5 working day for considering the application).
The legislation is not expected to come into force until later this month, but the council is already starting work to ensure it is fully prepared for when it goes live. This includes the creation of an online application process and details around eligibility and enforcement.
Licences will be valid for up until September 30 2021; and must be approved by the council within 7 days subject to certain criteria, including the ability for pedestrians to use the highway safely.
Businesses that already have outside trading with tables and chairs can operate without applying for a license, however it is expected that existing arrangements will have to be risk-assessed to ensure safe queue up and social distancing. Eating and drinking establishments are being encouraged to implement ways to help this, including table service and app-based ordering.
Any new business who wants to create outdoor dining space on the adjacent pavement will need to apply for the new licence.
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council said: “After a three-month absence from our city and suburbs, I know the industry will be keen to get back to businesses as quickly as possible and we are doing all we can to help businesses reopen in a safe and managed way.
“We know, for example, that some businesses may want to provide seating on the pavement outside their premises with the intention of serving more customers and potentially aiding social distancing. We want to support this, but again, safety must be the priority.
“So we are doing all we can to be ready for when the government introduces new legislation around temporary pavement licenses and in the meantime, I would urge businesses to read the government guidance on re-opening, risk-assess their premises and implement measures that will help their staff and customers stay safe.
“Understanding the maximum capacity of your business, coupled with the availability of hand washing facilities, stringent cleaning regimes, and one-way systems and barriers to separate bars and tables where possible."