Survey: town outlets to gain from licensing reform over rural pubs

Related tags Town centre pubs City

Licensing reform will boost development of town centre pubs, rather than those in rural areas, says the latest research by the trade organisation the...

Licensing reform will boost development of town centre pubs, rather than those in rural areas, says the latest research by the trade organisation the Leisure Property Forum.

Its survey, which polled 115 operators, licensing justices, local authorities and magistrates revealed that 63 per cent believe that flexible licensing would result in more leisure facilities, including pubs opening in town centres.

The report predicts that removing opening hour restrictions will boost town and city centre properties at the expense of rural pubs.

Seventy-nine per cent also felt that more flexible licensing laws would mean town centre operators would adopt longer opening hours.

The report supports the views put forward by some other property agents in the sector who believe town centre properties will become more desirable locations under new licensing laws.

Angus McIntosh, chairman of the Leisure Property Forum and head of research for property agent King Sturge, said: "Licensing reform will make town centres more attractive and perhaps will bring some vitality back to them."

The report also concluded that property values could be hit by zoning areas of town centres.

The property sector fears that pubs situated in zones that are allowed to open later will be more attractive and will command higher rentals whereas pubs in designated residential areas may fall in value.

Although more than 55 per cent of leisure operators in the survey were against zoning, it did have support of just over 80 per cent of local authorities.

The report concluded that: "One of the issues that the leisure property industry will need to address will be the implication of zones in terms of management and the protection of property values."

But there was some good news for the trade. In general, the idea that all bars should be "all seated" such as in continental Europe was rejected. This would be a way of controlling the capacity of each pub or bar.

Only 4.4 per cent of leisure operators supported it and only 25 per cent of local authorities felt that it was a good idea. The report predicted only larger premises would benefit at the expense of smaller, older buildings.

Meanwhile, 75 per cent believe that there is a strong case for integrating town planning and the granting of licences, although more than 50 per cent say there should not be a single licensing authority to cover this.

The research called "Reforming leisure licensing laws: The implications for leisure property", is produced by the Leisure Property Forum, Kingston University and lawyers Osborne Clarke.

Licensing reform predictions

  • 63 per cent believe that more pubs will open in town centres
  • 79 per cent felt that town centre pubs would open later
  • 55 per cent of leisure operators oppose zoning
  • 25 per cent of local authorities support "all-seated" bars and pubs.

Related topics Licensing law

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