Chelmsford and Brentwood eateries in bid for pavement seating as businesses look to take advantage of new licensing

Fast food fans could soon be able to enjoy dinner at McDonald’s al fresco, as the restaurant has asked for permission to have seating on the pavement in Chelmsford High Street.

It is one of several applications for pavement licences following Government changes to help restaurants struggling amid social distancing restrictions.

Although the restaurant chain often has outdoor seating at restaurants such as drive thrus, it is unusual for McDonald’s to have tables outside restaurants on busy town centre streets.

The franchise wants nine tables, 36 chairs, with 17 associated barriers and two moveable waste bins outside the front of the restaurant.

The Deltic Group Limited also wants outdoor seating for eight tables outside Bar and Beyond in Chelmsford.

And three Brentwood businesses have also asked for permission to serve customers on the pavement.

Giggling Squid wants permission for three tables, six chairs and four barriers to be used between 11am and 11pm.

Sienna’s Restaurant, in Shenfield, wants permission for a new pavement licence to allow five tables, 12 chairs and four barriers Monday to Saturday from 9am and 10pm and Sunday from midday until 8pm.

And the Meat Stop on Crown Street wants six bench tables seating 36 from Monday to Saturday, from 8am to 9pm and Sunday from 8am until 8pm.

Although licences for the use of pavements have been allowed in historic licensing legalisation, the government has made it clear it wants to allow more pubs, restaurants and cafes to serve customers outdoors.

Changes will reduce the consultation period for applications for pavement licences from 28 calendar days to five working days, and grant consent after 10 working days if the council does not issue a decision.

There is now a lower application fee for a pavement and street cafe licences of up to £100, and the changes also remove the need for a planning application for outdoor markets and marquees, meaning they can be set up for longer.

Councils will need to continue to ensure their communities are consulted on licensing applications, that waste is disposed of responsibly, and that access to pavements and pedestrianised areas is not compromised.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said: “I know we all look forward to seeing our pubs, cafes and restaurants open their doors again and I’m determined to give them a helping hand to get back on their feet and their staff back to work safely.

“That’s why we are introducing changes to make it quicker, easier and cheaper for them to set up outdoor seating and street stalls to serve food and drink.”

Business Secretary Alok Sharma MP said: “Our pubs, restaurants and cafes are the lifeblood of high streets and town centres across the country and we are doing all we can to ensure they can bounce back as quickly and safely as possible.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter