Pavement Licences and Off-Sales of Alcohol - Business and Planning Act 2020
The Regulatory Services Manager advised Members on the provisions of the Business and Planning Act 2020 relating to pavement licences and associated off-sales of alcohol and noted that the regime would be managed by the Licensing Team. The Government had introduced the Bill as part of measures to promote economic growth in the hospitality sector following the pandemic. The effect of the legislation was to fast-track the process until September 2021 when it would return to being the responsibility of the County Council as it was previously. It had been extremely onerous to introduce a completely new regime within 4 weeks but it had been successfully achieved.
The Committee’s attention was drawn to an associated amendment to the Licensing Act 2003 to allow premises with a licence authorising ‘on-sales’ only (sales of alcohol for consumption on the premises) to automatically have ‘off-sales’ added to their licence.
In conclusion, the Regulatory Services Manager advised that the report was in accordance with the Council’s Constitution and therefore the Planning Committee had delegated authority to the Director (Communities) and the process would be managed by the Licensing team.
The following points were raised during discussion on this item:
· Concern was raised on the lack of appeals process and the officer explained that there was a fast-track review process. It was possible to review the license as a whole which would depend on the available evidence. However if the issue only related of off-sales, then only that element would be reviewed.
· It was noted that the new pavement licenses would help the economy and create a friendlier atmosphere in the area and any problems would be reported to the Council. The Chair noted that it had taken 15 years for the Licensing Act 2003 to encourage the continental approach to the use of pavements.
· Questions were raised with regard to the following:
- The placement of furniture in front of premises and Members were advised that licence holders were only permitted to use the area directly in front of their premises and needed the consent of neighbours to encroach. Furniture or any boundary fences were not permitted within 1.5 metres of the highway which expanded to 2 metres on busy pedestrian thoroughfares and highways and would not be permitted near, for example, zebra crossings, bus stops etc.
- With regard to the use of outdoor heaters, the Committee was informed that there were conditions on the type of heaters that were permitted and this did not include gas heaters but did include electric heaters. However, should an issue arise with any type of heater then this could change.
- The officer confirmed that only a handful of pavement licence applications had been received by the Council and that given the seasons changing it was possible there would be more come the Spring.
· The concern of the Gravesham Access Group was reported in relation to blind and partially sighted people and wheelchair users being put at risk by street furniture. The officer provided an overview of the conditions that are applied to pavement licensing, in respect of such matters as continuous tapping rails, disability compliant barriers and high colour contrasting, for, example, for equality purposes. However, he acknowledged that things were not perfect but could be adjusted when necessary and the Council had the powers to enforce.
· Following a question with regard to smoking and non-smoking areas, the Regulatory Services Manager agreed to email the relevant information to members of the Committee.
Resolved that the report be noted.