Public footway licence

Tables and chairs, temporary furniture and shop front displays

You need a licence in order to place tables, chairs or other temporary furniture on a public footway/pavement. You also need a licence for a shop front projection display/A board. Patio heaters and awnings (other than sideless parasols) are prohibited.

A licence is temporary and valid for six months, and is renewable for further periods of six months. The licence is a printed document and specifies any conditions attached to it. A licence is issued to an individual who is in attendance at the premise, rather than to a premise, partnership or company. It is not transferable to another person. 

The application fee for tables and chairs is £122 for up to six months. For shop front projection displays or a board the fee is £13.50 for six months. The use of the footway is additionally charged at £1 per square metre per day.

The charge has to be paid at least four weeks in advance, but can also be paid for up to six months in advance. The licence will lapse immediately if the charge is not paid. The charge is not refundable irrespective of whether a licence is surrendered or withdrawn.

Isolated pitch

We will consider applications for isolated pitches such as flower/coffee vendors. Applicants are required to identify an isolated pitch location.  When we receive your application we will carry out a consultation process with organisations such as the police, Transport for London if the location is within a red route, planning etc. Because of this consultation, the time it takes to process applications varies. Once the application has been evaluated, you will either receive a written formal offer of a licence or refusal of the application.

The application fee for an isolated pitch is £13.50 for up to six months. The use of the footway will be charged at £30 per weekday, £50 each Saturday, and £52 each Sunday. The application fee is non-refundable.

Licence criteria

These criteria are taken into account when issuing a licence:

  • there must remain 1.8 metres (6 feet) of clear, unobstructed footway
  • footfall during period of licence
  • crowding to view the display and or queuing for access
  • street furniture and configuration that impacts on the space
  • building fire exits
  • bus, cash point, post office queues
  • the visual impact of the intended moveable structures
  • the street market designation and/or parking provision in place
  • close proximity of premises licensed for the sale of alcohol
  • close proximity of residential buildings
  • clear and unobstructed sightlines to and from the carriageway.

For more information see the application guidance notes.

Application evaluation process

  • Site visit made by Council Officer
  • Consultation with interested parties such as Transport for London (Red Route Areas) and the Safer Neighbourhood Police Teams, the Council licensing and planning sections.
  • Once the application is approved or rejected, you will either receive a written formal offer of a licence or refusal.

To accept an offer applicants need to return the form personally with:

  • The application fee
  • Payment relating to space
  • 2 passport size photographs
  • A valid passport
  • Proof of address (no mobile phone bills)
  • Public liability insurance with £2m cover for public footway cover

If you fail to provide the requested documentation the application will be deemed to be withdrawn.

If you haven’t heard from us within five working days, please contact us. Please note that we must process your application before it can be granted.

Apply

To obtain an application form, please come and see us at our contact address. You can also request an application on 020 7364 1717 or 020 7364 1707 or streetmarkets@towerhamlets.gov.uk and we will post one to you.

Alternatively, you can apply on the Businesslink website.

Appealing a failed application

If your application is refused or you have a complaint regarding a failed licence please contact us.

Consumer complaints

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you - preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK, Citizens Advice will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

Contact us

Market Services
131 Commercial Street (not Commercial Road)
London E1 6BJ

Tel: 020 7364 1717 or 020 7364 1707
Email: streetmarkets@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Opening hours: Monday-Wednesday and Friday 9am to 4pm, Thursday 9am to 2pm.

Further information