Top tips: fine tuning minor variations to licences

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Licence to change: it is good practice to review your premises licence
Licence to change: it is good practice to review your premises licence

Related tags: License

Nobody wants to pay unnecessary administrative costs, and the temptation will always be to leave your premises licence and the plans that are attached to it untouched for as long as possible.

But premise licences are a bit like a classic car – they need a bit of maintenance and a polish once in a while, or bits start to go wrong and fall off.

For example:

  • If your layout changes in any material way you could be trading unlawfully if you don’t update your plans with the licensing authority. The main things to look for are changes to internal or external walls; furniture, fixed seating or other items affecting individuals’ ability to use escape routes; doors, or the perimeter of the premises.
  • You may wish to amend a problematic condition, or update a condition so that it makes sense. For example, some conditions relate to abiding by the policies and procedures of the previous holder, often naming those companies in the licence. You don’t really want to be bound by another company’s procedures.
  • There may be a condition requiring membership of Pubwatch – but what if Pubwatch doesn’t exist in your area? A simple amendment to state ‘if one exists’ will remedy that.
  • You may have embedded conditions from the old pre-2005 licensing regime that have not been removed from your licence. The most common of these are conditions restricting children (particularly under-14s), drinking-up time of 20 minutes, and old public entertainment licence conditions relating to fire and electrical safety, hypnotism, pyrotechnics, and a myriad of weird and wonderful other standard wordings. You will usually find licensing authorities generally supportive of removing these types of conditions and tidying up the licence.
  • Consider extending your opening hours for breakfast opening – an increasing number of pubs are rolling out a breakfast offer to rival coffee shops. Whatever the reason for making an application, have a look at your licence to see if you can get full value for money from your application fee. Most if not all of the above (and many more) can be processed via a minor variation for an £89 fee which, if it reduces and clarifies your conditions, brings your licence plans up to date and future-proofs you against an over-zealous licensing officer, might be considered good value.

Related topics: Licensing law

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