Fresh Air Dining Program

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Council is inviting enquiries from local businesses who currently have alfresco dining permits to temporarily extend their outdoor dining capacity under the Fresh Air Dining Program.

The program aims to support hospitality businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic that have been unable to trade for an extended period of time.

Every effort will be made to expedite permits and make widespread outdoor dining safe, practical and a reality this summer.

Submit a Fresh Air Dining Program Enquiry

What extensions to outdoor dining can be approved under the Fresh Air Dining Program?

Council will consider proposals from hospitality businesses for outdoor dining options in areas not normally available, including the footpath, in the carpark, and on private or public land just near where they trade. 

Joint applications by neighbouring businesses for larger segments of street space will also be considered. Proposals may also include marquees, lighting or other street furniture to create a nice ambience for customers.

Safety for staff and customers must remain the primary consideration. 

Frequently Asked Questions

A series of common questions and answers have been summarised below:

Can my business be part of the Fresh Air Dining Program?

Council invites enquiries from all Surf Coast Shire based hospitality businesses with existing alfresco permits who wish to temporarily increase their outdoor dining capacity.

We are keen to discuss how we may help to achieve a customised outcome that allows each business to trade safely.

Submit a Fresh Air Dining Program Enquiry

Each enquiry will be assessed and treated as a bespoke and independent enquiry according to the needs of the business, the location, safety and amenity. What works in one area may not work for a different area.

If the request is able to be approved within the Surf Coast Shire Council Footpath Trading Guidelines, then assessment and approval can be rapid. Other, more complex, enquiries may take longer. 

If your business has not previously provided alfresco dining, complete the Footpath Trading Application for Alfresco Dining.

Where can I extend my outdoor dining?

The following four options for additional outdoor dining are covered under the Fresh Air Dining guidelines:

  1. On the footpath in front of or outside neighbouring property
  2. In on-street car-parking spaces
  3. In parking spaces or areas of privately managed land
  4. On open space or public land near to my business

If extending onto a footpath or directly adjacent to the business, please ensure:

  • it complies with pedestrian access requirements.
  • it complies with the Footpath Trading Guidelines. 
  • permission has been sought from the adjacent business owner or land manager.

See the Footpath Trading Guidelines on Council’s website.

If extending into an on-street car park, please ensure:

  • safety considerations remain the over-riding priority. Eg. Access to the alfresco area must only be from the footpath.
  • the space cannot be accessed from the road
  • it’s on a street with a speed limit of 50km/hr or less
  • it’s on a street with a straight road geometry, ensuring uninhabited view lines for drivers
  • it’s parallel or 90 degrees (angled parking may be considered)
  • it’s on streets that are not owned by Regional Roads Victoria*
  • it’s on streets that are not clearways
  • it’s more than 10m from an intersection
  • it’s more than 20m from a signalled intersection
  • it’s a minimum of one parking space away from an intersection on the approach side, unless there is an extended kerb
  • it does not have utility access panels or storm drains within the parking space

*Venues seeking to expand onto a road owned by Regional Roads Victoria will take a longer time to process.

Also note that businesses with loading bays in front of their premises may be considered pending consultation with surrounding traders, which could take a longer period of time to process.

If extending on private property, please be aware:

  • the site may be subject to certain planning permit conditions. 
  • advice is required from the Planning Department. 
  • This can be obtained by submitting an enquiry using the online form on this page.

If extending onto an adjacent open space area, please ensure:

  • it’s within 30 metres proximity of the business
  • permission has been sought from the land manager
  • the area is in line-of-sight from the business with adequate staff supervision
  • you can demonstrate safe access for both staff and diners from business to location, please consider glass and maintenance, especially for foreshore areas.
  • applications to utilise foreshore areas do not require crossing a road between the main premises and the outdoor dining area
  • applications to utilise foreshore areas must have secondary approval through Great Ocean Road Coast Committee and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
  • Safety, environmental, public access and maintenance issues will need to be addressed in the application.

How many people can I seat outdoors?

  • The total capacity applied for cannot exceed the current approved capacity limits of your business.
  • The space is for seated service only *
  • Maximum number of patrons is the number permitted by the Covid-19 Guidelines state one patron per two square metres or 70, whichever is the lesser. *
  • Cap of 70 patrons outdoors per venue.*

* Refer to September 2020 Industry Restart Guidelines Hospitality (excluding Gaming and Casinos). For the latest information on restrictions in Victoria, visit:

How quickly can my proposal be approved?

Please understand that the commencement of the program will result in a significant volume of requests to process. We will work through your request as quickly as possible.

The fastest possible Council approvals are for proposals that request an extended use of a footpath area with no service of alcohol. These can be assessed by the Ranger Services team and completed within one week.

A proposal that requires an extension of a red-line plan for service of alcohol may require a secondary consent amendment to your planning permit. Council will aim to process this within 2 weeks.

Proposals that require a more complex planning permit amendment, involves the use of car-parking spaces, public land or significant areas of private land are more complex and will take more time. Many of these enquiries will require attention and a bespoke approach.

Council has established an ‘Alfresco Concierge’ team to collaborate on the review and approval of more complex business proposals. The cross-Council departmental team includes Economic Development, Ranger Services, Planning, Building, Health and Parking & Traffic staff. 

A member of the Alfresco Concierge team will confirm the approval timelines for more complex proposals.

Each proposal will be assessed according to the needs of the business, the location, safety and amenity.  What works in one area may not work for a different area.

While Council will make every attempt to expedite any proposals, Council still needs to abide by specific legislation including Planning Permits that will determine the complexity or your proposal and influence how quickly the project will take.

Some aspects of your proposal may be permitted more easily than other aspects. Things to consider:

  • Extending seating areas, marquees or screens along footpaths are faster to approve than roads and carparks.
  • The maximum capacity of the outdoor dining area can’t be greater than the existing approved capacity of the business. Don’t apply for more tables than you have now.
  • Safety issues and neighbourly respect will be significant considerations if you plan to extend into a carpark.
  • Stay within your current approved hours of trade for a faster assessment.
  • If you’re not planning an extension of your liquor licence red line, we may be able to make a faster assessment. Consider whether you really need to serve liquor beyond your current approved red line. Can extra tables serve as a ‘dry’ area?
  • Some requests that require a planning permit amendment or traffic management plan will take more time. We will work through these items with you as quickly as possible.

What are the guiding principles used to assess an extension of outdoor dining?

  • Safety is the #1 priority for your business, your patrons and community.
  • Support for hospitality businesses affected by COVID-19. 
  • Every effort will be made to expedite permits and make widespread outdoor dining safe, practical and a reality.
  • Respect for neighbours, community and nearby uses.
  • Compliance with current COVID-19 restrictions and requirements.
  • A simple and efficient approval for businesses.
  • Consideration must be paid to aesthetics for an enjoyable experience for patrons.
  • Support of economic activity should be in the spirit of cooperation, creativity and respect.
  • The Fresh Air Dining program will not extend operating hours; increase the total number of patrons your business can have or modify any other conditions of the existing Planning Permit such as those relating to music or patron management, so compliance with those will still need to be achieved.

What guidelines do I need to be aware of in developing my FAD proposal?

Refer to the Surf Coast Shire Council Footpath Trading Guidelines as you will need to consider safety, amenity, access and furniture design principles as essential in the proposal.

The Victorian Government also released Industry Restart Guidelines for Hospitality in September 2020.

These provide all of the requirements for any business for contact tracing, cleaning, social distancing and capacity limits.

What do I need to consider in developing my Fresh Air Dining proposal?


Street dining should be designed to create an attractive, comfortable and safe ambience for the public and should not compromise the public amenity. The outdoor dining space should be non-invasive and respectful of the amenity of the area. Safety features and well-designed and maintained furniture and associated infrastructure are essential. With safety in mind, street dining should aim to improve the environment, reduce the opportunity for crime and promote accessible places that encourage a feeling of safety and community participation.


A well designed and maintained outdoor dining space is essential to ensure adequate open space for people to enjoy without obstructions on the street. Street dining should be integrated into the street in a way that does not compromise existing uses, building entrances, emergency access, disabled access and pedestrian safety.


The establishment of outdoor dining must not compromise essential or emergency vehicles access or obstruct loading, construction zones and entrances to private buildings and carparks.


The Surf Coast Shire has distinctive character with a, relaxed and welcoming feel. Street activities should be a natural extension of the city as inspiration is often sought from businesses that are bold, innovative and distinctive. The range of furniture should reflect the uniqueness, depth and breadth of creative opportunities in the public realm.


Any additions to the streetscape should create a seamless and attractive addition to the area. The overall design of outdoor dining infrastructure should contribute to the area’s physical characteristics and enrich local life and street culture. The design and appearance of structures should be high quality and structurally sound to be able to withstand prolonged exposure to various climatic conditions.


Fully enclosed outdoor cafés are discouraged. Installing an extensive marquee or enclosed outdoor dining area will not be approved and creates privatisation of the public realm. Privatisation of the public place results in reduced accessibility, visibility, amenity and safety to the public. The installation of an enclosed outdoor dining area to the front of a building diminishes public space and is not supported.


The permit holder is responsible for complying with Footpath Trading guidelines, and all laws including Council's Local Law and all other legal requirements relevant to the operation of an outdoor dining area, and to ensure employees and agents also comply.


Permit holders are responsible for monitoring and managing patron behaviour, and must ensure that if they operate a licensed premises (if they serve alcohol) that staff practice responsible serving of alcohol in accordance with the liquor licence.


Outdoor dining areas contribute to public safety by maintaining clear lines of sight through the public place and streets, which increases opportunities for casual surveillance and provides a sense of activity and safety. Constant monitoring by staff also ensures outdoor dining areas are not used for anti-social or unsafe activities.

Areas within and around outdoor dining areas should also minimise the potential for personal injury. Appropriate selection of furniture and fittings, as well as regular maintenance of items is important.

Permit holders are responsible for maintaining the safety and cleanliness of outdoor dining areas. They are also responsible for ensuring rubbish is not windblown into neighbouring areas. Regular cleaning of the outdoor dining area by staff ensures rubbish does not accumulate. 

How much will it cost?

There is no cost to businesses for an outdoor dining permit application. As part of the 2020/2021 Budget Surf Coast Shire Council has waived all outdoor dining fees.

Note that some Planning fees are set in regulation by the State Government and cannot be waived. In this case, pay the fee and keep the receipt. Council will reimburse any permit application fees related to the Fresh Air Dining program.

The cost of outdoor furniture and design in the space will be the responsibility of the business owner. 

As it is unlikely businesses will be able to cater for many customers indoors, some of this furniture may be able to be taken outside. Businesses may also choose to hire furniture or other items like marquees or heaters.

Businesses should also consider waste management and cleaning when planning their outdoor space.

The Victorian Government has launched a grant program to support businesses that require additional equipment.  

Can I extend my operating hours for outdoor dining?

No. Permission or approval to extend alfresco dining will not extend beyond your current operating hours; increase the total number of patrons your business can have or modify any other conditions of the existing permit such as those relating to music or patron management, so compliance with those will still need to be achieved.

Changes to these conditions would require a planning permit amendment and is not covered under this program.

Noise may be an issue depending on where your business is located, so it’s essential that outdoor dining spaces do not unnecessarily or unreasonably compromise other activities, particularly residential amenity. 

Are Food Trucks permitted to operate in public areas?

No. Council does not currently have any public spaces designated to support the operation of Food Trucks outside of approved events.

Decisions for commercial use of public land are guided by Council's Property Use Agreements Policy. A copy of which can be found on Council's website

If an area is identified to permit the operation of Food Trucks, a consultation process would be conducted via an Expression of Interest (EOI) process. Once the EOI process is completed all submissions will be assessed in accordance with the eligibility criteria advertised to determine the preferred user.  

Any proposal for Food Trucks on the foreshore area will most likely need permission and approval from the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC). 

Food Trucks may be able to operate on private land. The operator must confirm with Council whether any permits or approvals are required for the relevant site. 

All Food Trucks must be registered food premises under the  the Food Act 1984. This can be done using the Streatrader website. 

Where can I apply for a $5,000 grant to pay for furniture and other equipment?

The Fresh Air Dining Program has been developed in response to State Government ‘Outdoor Eating and Entertainment Package’ announced on 14 September. The package which aims to help businesses prepare for COVID Normal by creating safe outdoor dining spaces.

Eligible businesses can apply for a grant of $5,000 to pay for the practical things like umbrellas, outdoor furniture, screens and other equipment.

The grants will be available to licensed and unlicensed cafés, restaurants, takeaway food businesses, pubs, taverns, bars and clubs with a payroll of less than $3 million. 

A list of all current Business Support Grants are available on

Can I include screening on my new outdoor dining area?

Yes you can. We encourage successful applicants to consider how to provide the best possible dining experience, including things like screening, greenery and lighting in seating and dining areas.

Some applications may need further assessment by the planning department or require a road safety audit before final approval is granted.

Can I decorate my outdoor dining space if it is in a carpark?

It is important to ensure the space is safe for patrons dining in and also for pedestrian and vehicle traffic. It will be important to ensure that whatever measures are put in place that emergency vehicles can access the area.

There is no set design and we encourage businesses that want to pursue this option to be creative. Diners will also need to be safe and comfortable.

Venues need to consider aspects such as disabled access, heating, cooling and shade and how you will be able to keep patrons and groups physically distanced. Any design also needs to be durable for long-term public use.

Will I need to extend my liquor licence if I extend/start outdoor dining?

If you already have a liquor licence for your outdoor area and you are not proposing an extension to that area, then you won’t need to amend your liquor licence and can operate as normal.

If you extend your outdoor dining area and would like to serve alcohol in this area, you will need to amend your Planning Permit and Liquor Licence with the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR).

Written permission is required first from Council before VCGLR will extend your red-line area for service of alcohol.

The VCGLR has a streamlined approach to help existing licensees temporarily use outdoor areas for dining.  Please visit for more information. 


When businesses apply to the VCGLR for an outdoor area temporary licence, they are required to provide the following three items:

  1. Written permission from council allowing use of an outdoor area (this may be an outdoor dining permit issued in accordance with these guidelines).
  2. A plan that clearly describes boundary of the outdoor area endorsed by your local council (this is the endorsed site plan accompanying the outdoor dining permit under item 1).
  3. Specified trading hours for the outdoor dining area from Council (this may be part of item 1).

How can I secure my marquee to the ground?

If you intend to erect a tent or marquee on Surf Coast Shire owned or managed land, it must be secured. 

Mechanical fixing (e.g. bolts) of tents/marquees to footpaths, roadways or the like, on Surf Coast Shire owned or managed land or to any building or structure is not permitted.

The following table may allow venue operators to calculate the appropriate weight/s required to hold down tents/marquees on their particular site

Marquee / Tent Size
  • Up to 2.5m x 2.5m (6.25m2)
  • 4 hold down points
  • Up to 3m x 3m (9m2)
  • 4 hold down points
  • Up to 3.5m x 3.5m (12.25m2)
  • 4 hold down points
Required Weights
  • 12kg per hold down point
  • Total 48kg
  • 18kg per hold down point
  • Total 72kg
  • 23kg per hold down point
  • Total 92kg

*The weights indicated within the table are recommendations only.

Tent security in high winds is influenced by a number of factors, including area of the tent/marquee exposed, constant wind strength, strength of gusts and direction. Anchoring capacity of the weights themselves may be a factor.

Larger tents and marquees may require a building permit. 

Weights should be attached to tents/marquees as low to the ground as possible; weights should not extend away from the uprights or infrastructure in a manner that would represent a trip hazard.

All venue operators must ensure that all site infrastructure including lights, heaters, furniture, decorations and the like are adequately secured to prevent injury to members of the public and staff.

Note:  Whilst the Surf Coast Shire Council has provided this information to assist venue operator, it is not responsible for the accuracy of this information, and it is the stallholder’s responsibility to comply with Workplace Health & Safety regulations & any other government laws & regulations (Commonwealth, State or local.)

Will I need Public Liability Insurance?

Yes, You will need Public Liability Insurance to the value of $10 million. 

Businesses that already offer outdoor dining should already have this in place.  Please check with your insurer or landlord in the first instance. It is important you ensure your insurance covers the proposed additional area for alfresco dining. 

Can I extend my outdoor dining onto foreshore land?

Much of the foreshore in Surf Coast Shire is managed by Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) and will need land manager approval from them.

Submit your FAD enquiry using the online form noting that:

  • Applications to utilise foreshore areas must not require crossing a road between the main premises and the outdoor dining area.
  • Applications to utilise foreshore areas will require secondary approval through GORCC and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).
  • Safety, environmental, public access and maintenance issues will need to be addressed in the application.

What is expected of businesses who are successful for a Fresh Air Dining extension?

  • The proposal must allow a minimum 1.8m pedestrian zone in public areas.
  • The proposal must comply with the current patron limits, social distancing and cleaning requirements, as directed by the State Government.
  • The business will adhere to the advice and limits set in place by the Surf Coast Shire Council.
  • The business must have an appropriate level of Public Liability insurance.
  • The area must be kept clean, safe and well maintained to look visually appealing.
  • It should remain plastic free.

Do I need a CovidSafe Plan and to do contact tracing?

Yes, you must have a COVID-Safe Plan and record all patron names and contact numbers.

It is essential that you abide by all Victorian Government restrictions and keep up to date with changes as they are announced.

Please refer to the website below for more information: 


Will all applications for outdoor dining be supported?

Council will work with you in achieving the best outcome possible. It may be that not all aspects of all applications will be supported.

Council will assess applications on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration traffic conditions, patron safety, amenity and access for pedestrians, residents and essential vehicles.

There may be some areas that are not appropriate for extended outdoor trading because of safety and amenity conditions.

What if my neighbour complains about noise or the loss of car parking?

Talk to your neighbour about your ideas before you come to Council.

Council is keen to work with businesses to achieve an agreeable outcome. It is hoped neighboring businesses will support each other in good faith during this time and our staff will be able to help negotiate this if needed.

To minimise the chance of complaints host businesses will be required to provide letters of support from neighbouring businesses.

If complaints are persistent or numerous, Council is required to investigate. 

How long will the Fresh Air Dining Program run?

The program has a focus on temporarily assisting hospitality businesses as part of COVID-19 recovery.

At this stage there is no defined period by the State Government as to the program's duration, however Council has nominated a review date of  30 April 2021 to cater for the Easter period. 

Council reserves the right to review and amend this date if the need arises or if the State of Emergency related to COVID-19 is extended or rescinded.


How can my business be part of the Fresh Air Dining Program?

The Surf Coast Fresh Air Dining Program is available to businesses with existing alfresco permits to temporarily increase their outdoor dining capacity.

Submit a Fresh Air Dining Program Enquiry

If your business does not have a current Alfresco Dining permit, please complete a new Footpath Trading Application. 

Footpath Trading Application for Alfresco Dining.

To speak to someone about the Fresh Air Dining program, please call the Surf Coast Shire Council on 5261 0600 and ask to speak to the Ranger Services team.