Report of the Director of Economic Growth
The Director of Economic Growth submitted a report (previously circulated) to invite Members to consider a proposal to simplify the application process of granting a pavement café licence when deviating from our Pavement Café Policy.
It was reported that a revised Pavement Café Policy was approved by Members of the Licensing Committee in March 2014 following a review. A full consultation process took place with all stakeholders and an Equality Impact Assessment was carried out by Darlington Association on Disability (DAD).
The Covid-19 pandemic had highlighted a requirement for social distancing, thereby reducing capacity within premises and given the continuing importance of the outdoors to reduce transmission of the virus, government strongly encouraged local authorities to plan for outdoor dining and make all necessary changes to local high streets, squares and the public realm so this was as convenient as possible for businesses and members of the public.
On the 5 March 2021, Robert Jennick MP, Minister for Housing, Communities & Local Government, wrote to council leaders highlighting support for the safe re-opening of the hospitality trade and what was to be expected from local authorities (also previously circulated) and there was an expectation that a pavement café licence will be granted unless there was a good reason not to do so.
It was also highlighted that when an application was received and representations had been made it would ordinarily require a hearing by the Licensing Committee to decide if a licence should be granted and this may take several weeks from application to determination to complete. As this delay would reduce the ability of a struggling business to take advantage of using outside space at a critical time of recovery an interim and pragmatic approach to support local businesses on the road to recovery was proposed.
Members agreed that this simplification of the application process was a positive move to support businesses at this difficult time and was crucial to the local economy. They also sought clarification on what checks would be undertaken to ensure that all premises were not abusing their licence conditions and how the consultation process would be carried out with neighbouring properties and the relevant groups.
RESOLVED – That Members approve a new interim decision making process to be adopted when an application for a pavement café licence falls outside the current policy.