- It’s good to talk. You should speak to your neighbours and local businesses, along with local police, licensing, environmental health and fire officers. If they have any concerns about the change in how the premises will operate or look, you can tackle those before you start so you avoid any nasty surprises later on. They may even be able to offer you practical advice and give you some good tips!
- Look carefully at your premises licence: most layout changes will require an application of some kind. You may also need to change the conditions attached to your licence if they prevent you from operating in the new style. Consider what licensable activities you are allowed and specific permissions you may need. If your venue is becoming a nightclub with professional dancers you may need a licence for performance of dance; hotels will need 24-hour opening for residents. Don’t forget to tell the licensing authority even if you’re just changing the outlet's name.
- Consider whether there are any permissions you can give up or any new ones you might need. Do you need consent from the local authority to place tables and chairs on the public highway at the front of your premises? You may have gaming machines, for example, which you will no longer need and these permissions could be surrendered, potentially saving you some money.
- Don’t forget to check your planning permission. Make sure it allows you to operate in the new way and, if necessary, you will also need to make an application to change the use or terms of your planning permission.
- If you operate under a lease you will probably have to check the terms of that lease and speak to your landlord that they are happy with the proposed changes.
- Consider what inspections and risk assessments you will need to do. For example, a new layout will require a new fire-risk assessment, which could change the permitted capacity. You may also need to put new policies and procedures in place to deal with the different style of operation and clientele you will attract.
- Think about your staff. If you’re going to be closed during the refurbishment there may be employment law issues involved. Once you reopen your premises staff will need training that is relevant to your new style of operation.
All of the above is essential to ensure you have everything in place prior to opening day so make sure you allow yourself enough time to deal with
everything properly – remember major applications can take months from start to finish and the above list is by no means exhaustive.
Always take legal advice but otherwise, let your imagination run wild and good luck!