Tell authorities of plan changes

By Peter Coulson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Licence review, License

Caution: Inform authorities of plan changes, warns Coulson
Caution: Inform authorities of plan changes, warns Coulson
Licensees could face prosecution or a licence review if they fail to inform the relevant authorities of plan changes, warns Peter Coulson.

Renovation and innovation are very much part of the modern pub mix, not only inside the building, but outside as well. Of course, the priority when you do this is to attract more custom, so you may not be thinking at the time of any impact this might have on your premises licence. But you should.

I well remember many years ago a flagship pub, somewhere north of London, developed for a major brewery, that was widely promoted and publicised, with a grand opening. In all the brouhaha, someone had forgotten to check that the licence was still valid. It wasn't, and they had to postpone the celebrations until they put it right. Red faces all round.

At a lesser level, your renovation might be perfectly acceptable in planning terms, and building control may well have signed it off, but have you remembered that you lodged a plan of the premises with your licence? That has to be up to date, and in certain circumstances a licence variation will be needed and a new plan supplied.

Whether this will be a low-cost minor variation or not is a matter for the licensing officer alone. He is not required to consult anyone else, although he may do so. He must also have regard to the statutory Guidance on minor variations, to see if it falls within the scope of this scheme.

There is a wide range of licensing officers in this country, with varying degrees of empathy for the licensed trade. Some are sticklers — some, I know, are very much more informal and could well accede to a slight change in the plans to bring them up to date. But, above all, you need to check at the time. Remember the recent example of the police taking action over a re-sited pool table? That was completely out of order, but failure to advise of plan changes is a breach of licensing conditions and is actionable in two ways by the local authority if they see fit — a prosecution or a licence review.

It is no good being complacent about this, or whingeing after the event. A popular word among aggrieved licensees is 'victimisation': every time they are hauled up for failure to comply with licensing laws, someone has it in for them. It is not necessarily true, but in this case the remedy is in your own hands — let them know what you are doing.

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