Stay on top of your stress areas

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Flag it up: Many areas with a cumulative impact policy have Purple Flag status, meaning they are recognised as diverse, safe and enjoyable at night
Flag it up: Many areas with a cumulative impact policy have Purple Flag status, meaning they are recognised as diverse, safe and enjoyable at night
You may be familiar with the concept of cumulative impact policies, also known as 'stress areas', where the local authority has determined that the number of licensed premises in a particular area is having a negative impact on one of more of the licensing objectives.

As such they introduce a policy that any new licences or material changes to any existing licences will be refused if relevant representations are received. What does this actually do? Well, on one hand, you would argue that it stops the proliferation of licensed premises and the increased availability of alcohol, causing more people on the streets, later at night, having consumed more alcohol and creating problems for the emergency services and residents. On the other hand, some argue cumulative impact polices maintain the status quo of any area and, if it is so bad, then by doing nothing, how is it going to change? Indeed some operators actually quite like cumulative impact areas because they can have the effect of stifling competition. Recently published Government statistics showed that, in any event, the vast majority of applications in cumulative impact areas were actually granted.

However, there is one aspect of cumulative impact that often remains unchallenged and that is the relevance of it in the first place. This is now going to come much more into the picture, as cumulative impact polices have been put on a statutory footing, which means a lawful consultation process must be followed to introduce one. The evidence for such cumulative impact policy must, of course, be there and it must be subject to scrutiny.

There are currently 222 cumulative impact policies in place up and down the country and, over the next three years, if they have not recently been reviewed, they will have to be. This will, I think, be a very interesting process. One thing that already springs to mind is the fact that of the 222 cumulative impact policies currently in place, a large number are in areas that have received Purple Flag status. Purple Flag is an award for towns and city centres offering an entertaining, diverse, safe and enjoyable night out. It is a fantastic achievement for an area and yet you have to wonder how such a successful and safe night-time economy can also be the subject of a cumulative impact policy, which is a clear statement by the council that the area is suffering issues of crime and disorder and/or public nuisance.

As and when local authorities review their cumulative impact policies, we would encourage you to become part of the process and really consider what your local night-time economy says to you, and what you want people to say about your local area.

For any legal enquiries please visit Poppleston Allen's website​.

Related topics: Licensing law

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