Cheltenham Borough Council
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Agenda item

Application for permission to place tables and chairs on the highway

The Find, 20 Regent Street, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 1HE


The Licensing Officer, Phil Cooper, introduced the report regarding an application from Mr David Orme to place 2 tables and 4 chairs on the highway outside The Find, 20 Regent Street, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 1HE. The tables and chairs would be placed on the highway at the following times :



08:00 - 20:00


08:00 - 20:00


08:00 - 20:00


08:00 - 20:00


08:00 - 22:00


09:00 - 22:00


10:00 - 22:00


A picture of the proposed furniture was attached at Appendix A, a site location plan at Appendix B and hand drawn plan to illustrate measurements was attached at Appendix C. The Licensing Officer reported that whilst there had been no objections during the consultation the application was being referred to committee as it did not comply with the council’s policy on objects on the highway. This was due to the fact that the applicants had indicated that they did not intend to have barriers separating the furniture from the rest of the highway, which was a policy requirement. He explained that the council’s standard recommendation was that any objects on the highway should leave a minimum distance of 1.8m to allow for pedestrian access. In this case the distance between the tables and chairs and the kerbside was 1.8m without the addition of barriers.


The Licensing Officer added that neighbouring premises also operated without using barriers as their applications were determined prior to the current policy being in place. Current applications were examined on a case by case basis.

The Officer advised members that having regard to the facts, Members should decide whether to grant the consent if they were satisfied that there were sufficient grounds to depart from policy or to refuse permission as the application did not comply with the current Street Scene Policy.


In response to questions from Members the Licensing Officer confirmed that Kibousushi the neighbouring establishment had inherited permission for tables and chairs from the previous business. Renewal applications would not normally be brought to committee unless complaints had been received. It was only new applications which were not consistent with policy which were brought to committee.


The applicant, Mr David Orme, was invited to address the committee. He explained that without barriers there would be compliance with the minimum 1.8m distance required. He had chosen tables which were as small as possible and sturdy so they could withstand the wind. He believed that barriers were not necessary and would potentially be a trip hazard and blow over in the wind. They would also be unattractive and not in keeping with the listed building in the conservation area. The outdoor seating area was small and understated but would promote the café culture in the town. Signage was also conservative. To address any concerns about encroachment on the highway he proposed to observe what worked well both practically and in the regency setting. He had met with the Licensing Officer to see if there was an acceptable way and the application before Members represented the best option.


In reply to questions from Members Mr Orme said the chairs were sturdy and of a standard size and in keeping with the regency heritage building. In response to Members the Licensing Officer confirmed that the main issue with the chairs was with regard to the potential obstruction of the highway although the plan showed there was still 1.8m left to pass.


When asked how he intended to manage the furniture so as not to cause an obstruction Mr Orme stated that staff would be out regularly clearing the tables and removing any litter. As the premises had a bay window it was possible to see out on to the street from the counter so staff could monitor the situation. There was a drop kerb nearby and he was aware of the inconvenience it would cause should the 1.8m distance not be adhered to.  He certainly would not wish to damage the reputation of his business by not operating in accordance with the requirements. He gave his personal assurance that the area would be kept clear.


With regard to the entrance to the basement of the 21 Club he confirmed that during most of The Find’s trading hours the club would be closed and the gate padlocked. With his proposed seating plan the gateway would not be blocked in any event. He accepted that people did move tables and chairs to accommodate their groups but undertook to monitor this so as not to encroach on the highway. With regard to smoking staff were trained to politely but firmly talk to customers and they would do this with customers who moved tables and chairs which blocked the highway.


Mr Orme confirmed that there would be waitress service on Saturdays and Sundays but not at quieter times. The table and chairs would be brought in every evening.


He believed his café, which was based on quality, would enhance the town centre and its café culture. He understood the concerns of not having barriers but hoped Members were reassured by his commitment to police the area.


During the debate that followed Members made the following points:


A Member felt that permitting applications which did not comply with the council’s policy on objects on the highway was making a mockery of the policy. Everyone should be treated the same and the policy should be enforced as pedestrians were likely to be forced on to the road due to increasing encroachment on to the pavement. It was questioned how fair treatment could be given to all when those who had been granted consent 10 years ago did not have to comply with current policy.


The Chair stated that the policy represented guidance and if what was proposed was within the law and reasonable and proportionate Members had discretion to grant consent. Each application should be determined on its own merits and in this case there were grounds to vary from the policy without undermining the policy or the committee. Having looked at what other tables and chairs were on the highway in that street the proposed application was small scale. It was acknowledged that chairs would be moved by customers but the applicant had confirmed that it would not be long before they were moved back. If the applicant did not manage the operation properly then the licensing team would receive complaints. He felt it would be unreasonable to refuse consent as barriers would make the operation more challenging.


Members expressed concern that if this was approved then it called in to question the council’s policy and that something permitted 10 years ago was still binding now. To that end they requested that a review of the policy be arranged.


The Chair emphasised that the committee had the discretion to vary from the policy which would not set a legal precedent and would not be bound in the future


When asked the view of the licensing team the Licensing Officer stated that the tables and chairs policy was reviewed every three years and it was on the work plan for the end of this year or the beginning of next. In response to a question the Licensing Officer confirmed that any permission the committee granted could be called in for review by the committee at any time. It was important that Members focussed on this application on its own merits.


There being no further comments, the Chair moved to vote on 1.6.1 being to grant the consent.


Upon a vote it was (3 for 2 against)




Mr David Orme’s application for permission to place 2 tables and 4 chairs on the highway outside The Find, 20 Regent Street, Cheltenham, be granted because Members were satisfied that there were sufficient grounds to depart from the policy in this instance


Supporting documents: