Legal top tips: advice on refurbishments for the new year

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

New look: upgrades are a great way to increase trade
New look: upgrades are a great way to increase trade
With the Christmas and new year festivities over, you might be looking forward to finally taking some time to kick back and relax a little.

While the thought of planning for the next 12 months may seem like hard work, January is the perfect time, when trade is a little quieter, to start making plans for the year. Rather than starting to plan events, consider giving your premises a fresh look with a refurbishment.

Here are our tips on things to consider:

  • Ensure that you have consent from your licensing authority before starting any building work. Plans of the premises form part of your premises licence and changes to the layout are likely to require an application. A minor variation can be used to deal with small changes, which is unlikely to impact adversely upon the licensing objectives. For larger structural changes, introducing new licensed areas or increasing existing licensed areas, a full variation will be required. A minor variation carries a consultation period of 10 working days, with no opportunity for a hearing if objections are received. A full variation carries a 28-day consultation period and, if objections are received, a hearing is usually held within four weeks of the close of the consultation. It is important that you have permission to carry out the works before they commence because you risk trading otherwise than in accordance with your premises licence, which is a criminal offence.
  • An upgrade to your sound system can go a long way towards attracting new customers but if you are planning an upgrade, it is important to consider any potential nuisance that may be caused to your neighbours. Check your premises licence conditions carefully and, if there is a risk of disturbing your neighbours or breaching conditions, you may wish to consider installing a noise limiter or carrying out soundproo­fing works.
  • If you are looking to refurbish your beer garden or add an external bar, consider the effect a potential increase in use of the garden could have on your neighbours. Maintaining good relationships with your neighbours and a written risk assessment, dealing with any potential issues, is a good starting point to help reduce the risk of enforcement action. The addition of an external bar would require a full variation application and it is important to think of measures that could mitigate any negative impact upon your neighbours.
  • Depending upon the changes you are seeking to make, planning or building control applications may be required. I recommend taking advice from a planning expert or your council’s planning department.

Planning a refurbishment can seem like a huge task, particularly if you do not have the support of a dedicated building team, but a little preparation and forward planning can make the whole process less stressful.

Related topics: Property law

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