Planning restrictions could scupper late openings for World Cup

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags World cup Merseyside Liverpool

Pubs who have restrictions on their planning licences may not be able to open late for England's World Cup matches
Pubs who have restrictions on their planning licences may not be able to open late for England's World Cup matches
Pubs may be blocked from staying open late for England’s World Cup matches if it means they contravene restrictions on their planning licences, it has emerged.

The statutory instrument used by the Home Office to relax licensing hours for any England World Cup game that kicks off at 8pm or later does not extend to planning licences, a case in Merseyside has highlighted.

The development came after Steve McNulty, who runs Chambers Bar & Grill, in Wirral, was warned by his licensing sergeant that he may face sanctions from Wirral Borough Council if he stays open until 1am in the morning following England’s first World Cup game, against Italy, on 14 June. He was told the move would contravene a planning restriction on his pub which specifies it cannot be open to customers later than 11.30pm.

McNulty, however, told the PMA that he had been advised by the council it would only consider sanctions if a complaint from a resident was made.


He explained: “Even though there’s been a relaxation in legislation from the Government, the council could still charge and fine us — so the threat is real, and it could be a threat to pubs throughout the country.”

A spokesman for Wirral Council confirmed that if a venue’s original planning approval put a restriction on hours of opening, it would need to apply to change this.

Richard Williams, managing director of licensing law firm LR Law, described the situation as “ridiculous” and believed that attempting to stop a pub opening in this way would go against the spirit of the extensions.

Jonathan Phillips, director at chartered surveyors Meeson Williams Phillips, explained that each local planning authority interprets legislation independently and councils are not obliged to interpret the Home Office’s intentions inflexibly.


He added: “In the Wirral case, it appears that planning applications to extend the hours of use have been refused in the past. This strongly suggests that the local planning authority considers that environmental harm is likely to be caused by extended hours, hence the less flexible approach.”

McNulty said he plans to apply for a change of planning licence just before the start of the World Cup. According to Phillips, the application will then be put to public consultation for 21 days and no decision can be made within that period. He warned, though, that the council could still apply for a stop notice to force McNulty to close at 11.30pm.

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