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Temporary Café Licences to Help Businesses

West Devon Borough and South Hams District Councils are supporting hospitality businesses to get back on their feet following the coronavirus pandemic, with temporary permission to extend outdoor seating area for cafés and pubs.

A shelf full of bottles of alcohol

The Councils are helping hospitality businesses to reopen in the coming weeks as coronavirus lockdown restrictions continue to ease.  Although a large number of cafes and pubs remain closed, many are planning for when they can reopen.

Extending outdoor seating areas, or putting in place new outdoor seating, are among the ways cafes and pubs can help customers to maintain social distancing. It remains the businesses' responsibility to ensure the layout meets the Government's social distancing guidelines.

Some premises may need a change to their existing premise licence. In this case, they will be able to make an application for a temporary outside seating area by applying for a minor variation to their licence. This will only take up to 15 working days to get permission, rather than the usual eight-week period.

Businesses who would like to apply for outdoor seating on pavements or roads, will need to apply directly to Devon County Council for a street café licence.

Those who want to use South Hams District or West Devon Borough Councils' land need to apply direct to their local council. More information on what land could be available will be on each Council's website by Friday 19 June.

West Devon Borough Council's Leader, Cllr Neil Jory, said: "We recognise the pressures which businesses have been under during the pandemic and we'd like to support them as much as possible to help them get back on their feet by allowing extra capacity for customers.

"We can help businesses by advising how they can safely increase their business area to include more visitors while keeping to the social distancing guidelines. 

"It's really important to us to support our business owners and our local economy as much as possible."

Businesses wishing to sell or serve alcohol will need a premises licence or may need to amend their existing one to include the new seating area.

Guidance will be provided about being a good neighbour to ensure any new licences are welcomed and noise and litter are taken into consideration. 

Councillor Judy Pearce, South Hams District Council's Leader, said: "By encouraging licences for street cafes across the District, we hope that it will support local businesses to gain a quicker recovery to support the local economy.  

"The application process will be quick and easy and we encourage cafes and pubs to apply for a licence to use our land. 

"Providing the proposed use is safe and keeps to Government guidance, then a temporary licence application will be considered and issued as quickly as possible."

If you are an existing business considering expanding to outdoor seating to serve food and drink, please go to:

 To apply for a licence to use Council land for your café or pub, go to:  

If you wish to use footpaths or the road for outside seating, please go to Devon County Council's website to apply for a street café licence:


Issued: 15 June 2020 

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