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Street cafe: frequently asked questions

Can I get a street cafe licence for my mobile catering van?

Devon County Council do not licence or give approval for catering vehicles.  For further information please see our webpage.

Why do I need a licence?

It is our duty to ensure that the highway (including footways and pavements) are safe and accessible to all members of the public. Obstruction of pavements can present a serious problem, particularly to elderly or disabled people, and may be a hazard.

We are required to carry out a consultation before issuing a licence for tables and chairs on the highway, which is why it takes a long time for us to issue a licence and which is why we recommend you apply as early as possible.

What happens if I don’t apply for a licence?

You would be committing an offence under the highways act 1980. Any incident involving public safety relating to your equipment on the highway would be your full responsibility, and it is unlikely your insurance would cover this without a licence from us.

Once we are aware of unlicensed items on the highway we will request that you remove the items or obtain a licence as soon as possible. If this request is not complied with, a notice will be issued by our contractors who have the power to remove the items at a cost within the region of £3,000, which we will seek to recover.

Are picnic benches ok?

No – tables and chairs must be easily movable if required, and must not be left out overnight.

Do I need to get planning permission as well as a highway licence?

We advise you to check with your local planning authority as planning permission may also be required.

I have just taken ownership of premises. Is the previous owner’s licence still valid?

No, the licence gives permission to the applicant only. You would have to make a new application, and check with your local planning authority regarding planning permission.

Is a consultation needed if I am just renewing my licence?

We must carry out a consultation if the details of the licence change – so if you have changed the number of tables and chairs or your operating hours, for example, then a new consultation will be needed.

I’ve already got planning permission for outdoor tables and chairs – do I also need a highway licence?

Yes – if you are planning to place any items on the highway, you will need a licence from the highway authority (us) as well.

My balcony overhangs the pavement – can I put tables and chairs under there without a licence?

If the furniture is on any part of the highway (pavements and footways) you will need a licence. Check your property deeds to identify what is within your premises boundary – remember you do not necessarily own the pavement in front of your property! If in doubt contact us for help.