Changes to licensing of tables and chairs outside cafes and restaurants

West Sussex Highways staff are helping with the transfer of responsibilities


Release date: 24 July 2020

Government legislation has switched responsibility for the licensing of tables and chairs on pavements outside West Sussex eateries to district and borough councils.

The changes are aimed at supporting bars and restaurants to get back up and running during the current Covid-19 restrictions.  Businesses will be able to apply for a temporary licence until 30 September 2021.

The county council will remain a consultee in the licensing application process and West Sussex Highways staff are helping with the transfer of responsibilities. Current licences remain valid but renewal applications will need to be directed to the district and borough councils.

A business will require a licence from their local district and/or borough council for a number of reasons, such as:

  • A business has no current licence to place tables and chairs on the pavement/public highway.
  • A business has a valid licence covering how tables and chairs are set up outside but wants to temporarily change those furniture arrangements to adhere to current COVID-19 guidance 
  • A business has a valid licence that is due to expire before the 30th September 2021, which is when the licensing function managed by district and boroughs will end.

Any business owner who meets the above criteria can find out how to apply via the following website pages - please click on the relevant district or borough council's weblink (dependent on where the cafe/restaurant is located):

Adur & Worthing Councils 

Arun District Council

Chichester District Council - the planning information is then under Coronavirus – support for businesses.

Crawley District Council

Horsham District Council

Mid Sussex District Council

Horsham District Council already has delegated authority on the licensing of tables and chairs in Horsham town centre under its own charging system.

Additional information

The Government’s website explains why it introduced the emergency legislation to change responsibility for this licensing function, saying: “This new process introduces a streamlined and cheaper route for businesses such as cafes, restaurants and bars to secure a licence to place furniture on the highway.

“This will support them to operate safely while social distancing measures remain in place. This will provide much-needed income over the summer months and protect as many hospitality jobs as possible.”

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