Southampton Inside Out – Our easy guide to doing outdoor dining

GO! Southampton is working with Southampton City Council and other stakeholders on ‘Southampton Inside Out’ – a new initiative which aims to make it easier for businesses in the hospitality sector to create/add more outside seating. A large number of our businesses will be reducing their capacity to enable safe social distancing; creating more opportunities and simpler processes for utilising outdoor space could help to mitigate this.

You can read our press release on the launch of the joint initiative here. See below for more details and how to apply for the relevant licence(s).

Adding / increasing outdoor seating immediately outside your premises

Some businesses already hold the relevant licences for outdoor seating/service but may be interested in increasing the amount/type of seating, whilst other businesses may not currently have any outdoor seating but would be interested in making use of space immediately outside of their premises where suitable. The process for new licence applications in Southampton is being simplified in line with new national legislation (see below), whilst the Council is also looking at how to ensure applications for minor variations to existing licences are processed as quickly as possible as well.

Extending spaces within the city

As part of the Southampton Inside Out initiative, we’re also looking at how businesses can utilise designated spaces within the city away from their premises for extra outdoor trading. We’re keen to provide this opportunity to businesses who may have restricted, little or no viable outdoor seating options directly outside their premises.

Outdoor dining pilot schemes

Currently, we are working with the Council to explore areas including Canute’s Palace and around the Bedford Place/Carlton Place area as pilot schemes.

Bedford Place/Carlton Place pilot scheme

We are excited to announce that an initial 6-month pilot scheme has been launched through Southampton City Council. As of 22 August, three areas of road have been pedestrianised to allow for more outdoor dining, the areas included are:
– Bedford Place (from Carlton Place to Henstead Road)
– Carlton Place (from Bedford Place to Southampton Street)
– Lower Banister Street (from Carlton Place to opposite Popworld)
We are pleased to see that many of the businesses involved have obtained their licences and are using the space to install removable tables and chairs.

The closures are being enforced through an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order through the council who will be installing a mixture of planters and concrete blocks to close off the proposed areas. FAQs can be found on the council’s website here. We will be working closely with Southampton City Council and traders in the area to monitor the scheme, support the businesses and assist with any emerging issues.

You can find more about the Bedford Place/Carlton Place pilot scheme, including how we are working with the council to further animate the area here.


Guildhall Square pilot scheme

We are now exploring opportunities for additional seating/eating areas in Guildhall Square to help support surrounding businesses. In the first instance, we are looking to incorporate a picnic/dining area to launch in May. Please check back this page for the latest updates.

Applying for a Pavement Licence

Nationally, the Government has announced new measures as part of the Business and Planning Bill 2020, to allow for a quicker and cheaper process for businesses to apply for a Pavement Licence. Below are some details on pavement licences and how they can benefit your business during the recovery stages. For full guidance from Government go here.

What is a pavement licence?

A pavement licence allows businesses to use removable furniture outside of their premise on the pavement/road for trading purposes. A licence is needed to ensure that there is still enough space around the suggested extension for people/cars to use it and to consider possible noise disturbances.

How much do they cost?

Under the new guidelines, the fee is determined by the local authority but will be capped at £100. The cost of the licence is usually around £400. Licences can last for any length of time, with a minimum of 3 months up until September 2021. Amendments to existing licences are free. To find out more go to the Council’s page here.

How long is the process?

The minimum consultation period will now be 7 days after the application date with a 7 day decision period (total 14 days). Previously the application period was 28 working days. The consultation period will involve a visit to check the suitability of the site and any details after the application has been submitted.

What type of businesses can apply?

Any business which uses its premises to sell food and drink for consumption. Businesses must also hold £5m public liability insurance.

What furniture can be used?
  • counters or stalls for selling or serving food or drink
  • tables, counters or shelves on which food or drink can be placed
  • chairs, benches or other forms of seating
  • umbrellas, barriers, heaters and other articles used in connection with the outdoor consumption of food or drink.

    *Please note that the furniture must be removable and stored overnight on the business premise.

How to apply


Businesses will need to apply online through the Southampton City Council website – to apply go here. 

Please note there are two different types of applications, a Pavement Licence and Tables and Chair consent. Essentially the Pavement Licence was introduced last year (2020) to make it easier for businesses to create outdoor dining spaces, however, you can still apple for Tables and Chairs consent here. You can view the differences on the council’s website here.

If a business already has a Pavement Licence but wishes to extend/amend it you can find the changing circumstances form on the same page – amendments are free. Before you apply, please take the time to read through these documents:
Impact on street lighting assets
Permission conditions 
Pavement café design guidance

For any questions on pavement licences please contact Belfour Beatty at southamptonnrswa@bblivingplaces.com

How can we help you?

As part of the application, you will need to provide a drawing to show the layout plan of your proposed area. GO! Southampton can help with this and create the drawings for you. We have also taken on Rees Leisure to advise businesses on the practicalities. Please email us at info@gosouthampton.co.uk.

Via the Additional Restrictions Grant scheme, Southampton City Council might be able to offer businesses specific grants to put towards purchasing additional tables and chairs for outdoor trade. We will keep you updated on this page and via our weekly business bulletins when we find out more.

Applying for an alcohol licence

Southampton City Council is keen to work with traders to help with outside trade, including the sale of alcohol, but must consider issues relating to noise, public nuisance and street drinking. It is advised that any changes being considered to any outside areas for the consumption of alcohol are highlighted to the Licensing Authority and the Police Licensing Team at the earliest opportunity. To find out more information go here.

If you already have an alcohol licence, temporary amendments that have been made to the Licensing Act 2003 means businesses can automatically sell alcohol for consumption outside the premises. New Government guidance states:
Off-sales, including home deliveries and takeaways, will be allowed in the hours that alcohol can already be sold for consumption on the premises. This automatic extension will eliminate the time and cost to businesses who may wish to apply for a variation of their licence.’

The new rules on selling alcohol for consumption off the premises do not apply to those who have had permission for this refused or taken away in the last 3 years.

In practical terms, this helps when applying for a table and chairs licence that involves areas of outside seating that may fall outside of the boundaries of a business, as a separate licence for off-sales would not be needed.

To check your alcohol licensing details go to the Southampton City Council’s public registers page or contact licensing@southampton.gov.uk.

Support with reopening

As well as exploring how we can help facilitate more outside seating options for our hospitality sector businesses, we will also be working with all our members on how best we can support them whilst they are closed as well as when they reopen. For general business enquiries email us at info@gosouthampton.co.uk

Southampton City Council’s Licensing Team and Hampshire Constabulary’s Police Licensing Team have released some specific guidance and best practice for hospitality businesses wishing to open from 12 April for outdoor dining. Please read the guidance here.