Q: I am in the process of buying a pub, and I want to do some work to it, which is of a fairly minor nature, and get it open three weeks after I have completed it so that I am in good time for Christmas. I would also like to change the hours on the licence so that I can sell alcohol for an hour later at the weekends. The council has suggested I can do this on one application to save time and money. Is this the best course of action?
A: You need to be careful here because of the rush in which you would like to get the pub open. If you put both the works and also the change to the hours in the same application, this would need to be a full variation to your premises licence, but should there be an objection from anyone to the additional hours, this will delay the works being approved as part of the same application. The matter would then have to proceed to a hearing that may be seven to eight weeks after you have issued the application, and you wouldn’t have approval for the works to be done before you want to open, which is three weeks after you complete. It is all very well if no one objects, but the danger is of an objection that then delays the whole application.
Your better course of action (assuming you cannot be certain that there will be no objections to the later hours), would be to apply for the works to be approved under a minor variation, which will take two to three weeks for approval to come through, and should be with you by the time you want to reopen the pub, and submit a separate application for the change to the hours which, should there be objections, would then go to a hearing but would not delay you from reopening after the refurbishment.
Splitting area coverage
Q: I am interested in taking a lease on a ground floor unit that currently has a single premises licence, but I only want to take part of the area, which the landlord seems to be happy for me to do so. How do I go about this when there is only one premises licence and this covers the whole area?
A: There are two ways you can go ahead with this, but it would be sensible to work hand in hand with the landlord.
The landlord could make an application for two separate licences to split the licence into two and then, assuming they are both granted, simply transfer one to you.
The other alternative, if you were in a rush, would be for you to make an application to transfer the existing licence into your name or your company name, and to then make an application for a minor variation to remove part of the area from the premises licence, so that the existing premises licence simply covers your unit.
The danger, however, is that the landlord has a second unit without a premises licence upon it. The landlord could make their own application then for a new licence quite separately, but if your minor variation to de-licence part of the unit then the landlord is relying upon this new licence being granted without any problems.
If you go down this route, the better course of action for your landlord would be for them to make an application as soon as possible to have a licence on the unit you are not taking, so that its granting can come through prior to your minor variation being approved to remove the unit from your licence. This would need careful co-ordination between you and the landlord.
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