Ministers will introduce a new bill in Parliament today (25 June) temporarily changing licensing laws to allow people to buy alcohol from pubs and drink it in parks or on pavements.

Under the new rules, licensed outlets will be able to convert their car parks and terraces into temporary beer gardens, and pubs will be able to set up tables and chairs on pavements to serve their customers.

Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking, says this must not come at the expense of pedestrians.

table and chairs

Dr Rachel Lee, Policy and Research Manager, Living Streets said:

“Al fresco dining has the potential to bring our streets to life, creating vibrant spaces where people want to spend time. However, in areas where space is at a premium, it has the potential to make walking very difficult for so many.

“Many of our footways are too narrow, which became apparent at the start of lockdown when it impacted on people’s ability to practise physical distancing. However, cluttered streets have long been a problem for people with wheelchairs, buggies and those living with sight loss.

“Town and cities across the country have been using government investment to trial schemes to create more space for people walking, including widening pavements and closing certain streets to traffic. We should not undo all this great work and investment by crowding pavements with tables and chairs at the expense of the people who need to use them.

“Pavements should only be considered an option where there is at least two metres of space once the furniture and customers are accounted for. Car parks and terraces should be the first option explored when creating these temporary beer gardens and eating spaces. Councils could also allow businesses to use parking spaces creatively - parklets are a great way to add space and character to our streets.”