Councillors have agreed to a series of measures that could bring a taste of cafe culture to the high streets around Dacorum.

As part of a national drive to support businesses in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the legislation around licensing for pubs and restaurants has been changed.

As a result, any customer at a pub or restaurant can now purchase alcohol to take off the premises – even if the venue doesn’t usually have an off-licence.

And any venue – be it a pub, restaurant or cafe – can apply to put tables and chairs on pavements outside their premises more quickly.

Where a venue applies for a ‘pavement licence’ they will now receive a decision within 14 days – including a seven-day consultation period.

And as part of the fast-track process if they don’t hear back, the application will be deemed to be successful.

Watford Observer:

If businesses don't hear back after applying, the application will be deemed successful. Photo: Pixabay

Until now pavement licences in Hertfordshire have been issued by the county council, in its role as highways authority.

But following the change in legislation they are to be administered by the district councils.

And on Tuesday (August 4) a meeting of Dacorum Borough Coucil’s licensing and health and safety committee agreed how they would review applications.

They agreed that the fee for a pavement licence in Dacorum would be set at the maximum level allowed of £100. And they agreed that any licence issued would run until 30 September, 2021.

As a condition, venues will not be able to obstruct the highway and there will have to be areas that were smoke free.

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Meanwhile venues will not be allowed to charge for the use of a table and chairs – and no patio heaters will be allowed on the highway.

There was also agreement that venues should be conditioned to abide by all Government guidelines in relation to Covid-19.

At the meeting Cllr Colin Peter raised concerns about the impact it would have on litter, with receipts being blown away from pavement tables.

But the council’s licensing team leader Nathan March said there was a requirement that pavements should be left neat and tidy at the end of the day.

Mr March also told councillors that they had expected an “influx” of applications, but that since the legislation had been announced there had been none.

Councillors heard that the £100 fee was not expected to cover the costs incurred by the council in administering each application.