City of Melbourne Outdoor Cafe Guide

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Outdoor Cafe Guide for Market Umbrellas and Cafe Barriers, Melbourne, VIC

Cafe barriers and market umbrellas are an ideal solution to provide shelter from the sun and protect patrons from the wind and rain. They are an ideal solution for when awnings and verandas are not available and/or not an option. The construction and design of market umbrellas and cafe barriers and the method of securing them safely must adhere to the City of Melbourne’s regulations. Different councils within the same city have varying regulations in regard to cafe barriers and market umbrellas.

The information on this page is to be used as a guide only. Click your council below to download their documentation. If your council in not listed then please let us know and we will try to obtain it.

MCC Market Umbrella Specifications

City of Melbourne Market Umbrella Specifications


  • + In-ground sockets for umbrellas must be designed and constructed so as not to damage the pavement surface and not pose a trip hazard on the footpath after removal of the umbrella
    + All umbrellas must be secured in the footpath via the installation ofa in-ground socket and sleeve system.
    + A Certificate of Compliance is required under the Building Act 1993.
    + Where in-ground sockets are not an option (eg: there is an operational service pit in the designated area) an umbrella base and weight bags may be used, subject to approval by the City of Melbourne.
    + Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
MCC Outdoor Cafe Guide

Placement and Storage

  • + Depending on the width of the footpath, market umbrellas are required to have a minimum width of 1200mm.
    + The canopy edge of market umbrellas may extend a maximum of 300mm beyond the outdoor café boundary facing the shopfront and must be set back from the kerb.
    + Cafe umbrellas must be properly secured in the pavement with an in-ground socket to prevent blowing over in strong winds.
    + Cafe umbrellas should be set back from existing infrastructure such as street furniture, trees, canopies and verandahs.
    + Market umbrellas must be removed at the end of business trading hours and stored inside the premises.
    + A market umbrella’s life span in the public place is three to five years and should be replaced after this time.

Market Umbrellas to be used only:

  • + In Central City 30m-wide streets where there is no adequate shelter.
    + In Central City 10m-wide streets and laneways where there is no adequate shelter, subject to approval by the City of Melbourne.
    + Outside the Central City where the outdoor café width permits.

Umbrellas are not permitted:

  • + Throughout the municipality where building awnings exist at typical ground floor height (2800-3800mm high from the ground) and cover most of the footpath to 0-1000mm setback behind the kerbline.
    + To be lower than the minimum clearance height of 2200mm, measured from the lowest edge of the canopy to the pavement.

City of Melbourne Cafe Barrier Specifications

Cafe barriers or breeze barriers can assist in delineating an outdoor café and create a feeling of protection for patrons. To preserve the appearance and openness of Melbourne streets, the maximum height for standard cafe barriers is 900mm.
The City of Melbourne will consider the approval of cafe barriers on a case-by-case basis. Applications will be assessed according to available space, streetscape, street activity and amenity, traffic conditions and requirements.
Where it is appropriate to use cafe barriers, they must be removable and positioned parallel to the road. Where breeze barriers are considered inappropriate, planter boxes may be considered at right angles to the kerb to define the extent of the outdoor café.
The design and construction of cafe barriers should conform to the City of Melbourne’s specifications.


  • + Cafe barriers should be made of canvas material which can withstand sun and rain exposure over prolonged periods.
    + Cafe barriers should be a single primary colour. Dark colours are recommended as lighter colours have a tendency to discolour and stain.
    + Cafe barriers must have a light weight frame and be securely anchored with approved weight bags. The use of large weight bags, cement blocks and large containers is not permitted.
    + Cafe barrier panels attached to the frame by rope through eyelets are not permitted.
    + Cafe barriers with a height of more than 900mm are not permitted within an outdoor café.
    + Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Placement and Storage

  • + Wind barriers are not permitted between the building line and the edge of the outdoor dining area. The section of the outdoor café facing the building should remain open.
    + No gaps are to occur between barriers.
    + The combined length of cafe barriers should not exceed 12m in length.
    + If the outdoor café width permits, barriers may be positioned perpendicular to the road. The width of barriers may not extend more than 2000mm in length.
    + A 1500mm break must be provided in the centre of a row of cafe barriers that has a total length of 12m or more.
  • + Where a new applicant wishes to install a row of cafe barriers next to an existing outdoor café with barriers, making a combined screen length of more than 12m, that applicant is required to reduce the length of the barriers by 1500mm and leave a gap before the neighbouring boundary.
    + At no time can these screens extend beyond any neighbouring property without consent in writing from both the neighbouring owner and occupier.
    + Complete enclosure of the outdoor café area is not permitted. A maximum of three sides can only be enclosed.
    + Cafe barriers are not permitted to be fixed to the pavement or any other structure.
    + Cafe barriers must be removed from the outdoor café at the end of the trading hours and stored inside the café premises.

Cafe Barriers are not permitted:

  • + In main Central City 30m-wide streets, such as Swanston Street and Bourke Street (Russell Street to Queen Street).

Cafe Barriers are only permitted:

  • + In Central City 30m-wide streets (other than the exceptions mentioned above).
    + In Central City 10m-wide streets.
    + Outside the Central City.


The 'Places for People' report (City of Melbourne and Gehl Architects, 2004) recommends reducing intrusive advertisements and ensuring commercial and shop signage is scaled to fit the streetscape and the pedestrian environment.
The City of Melbourne allows identification and promotional signs that add vitality and colour to business areas.
Although general specifications for advertising are outlined below, each application is assessed on a case-by-case basis to ensure a high standard of graphic design, complementary to the café and streetscape, is maintained.


  • + The name or logo of the café may be displayed on every alternate panel of café barriers or market umbrellas. The size of the name or logo should cover no more than 33% of the surface area of the panel.
    + Commercial advertising such as product advertisements or sponsorship logos (eg. coffee company) is permitted on cafe barriers and cafe umbrellas and may be displayed on alternate panels only.
    + Commercial logos should cover no more than 33% of the surface area of the panels on barriers or umbrellas.


  • Where only two breeze barriers are proposed, advertising is permitted on both panels for the purpose of maintaining balance.
    + A combination of café name or logo and commercial advertising is only permitted on glass screens.
    + The placement of logo/logos on glass screens must be within the top 215mm of alternate screens as shown in the diagram below.
    + A safety screen print pattern should be visible at a height of 0-700mm from the ground and on all panels, as shown in the diagram below.
    + Illumination contrast is recommended.
    + No advertising is permitted on planter boxes.
    + No form of advertising or display material, including Advertising Boards (A- boards), is permitted in the outdoor café area.

A-boards, Menu Boards

  • A-boards (menu boards) are not allowed to be displayed outside the permitted outdoor café. This includes hanging boards or attaching menus from canvas screens or glass screens.
    A menu board may be placed within the outdoor café in place of a table and chair.
    The design and appearance of a menu board must be approved before use by the City of Melbourne.

Ballarat Footpath Trading Policy

Bayside Footpath Trading Policy

Bendigo Outdoor Dining and Street Trading Code of Practice

Casey Footpath Trading Policy

Melbourne City Council Outdoor Cafe Guide

Monash Footpath Trading and Access Policy

Stonnington Footpath Trading Policy

Warrnambool Footpath Trading Policy

Whittlesea Footpath Trading Policy