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Legal Q&A: limit to flexible hours and refurbishment proposals

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Handy idea: take advantage of the time available to renovate your site
Handy idea: take advantage of the time available to renovate your site

Related tags: Pub, Licensing

The latest legal Q&A from specialist licensing solicitors Poppleston Allen covers the rules around late-night refreshments and refurbishment proposals during Covid-19 lockdown.

Limit to flexible hours 

Q: I operate a small restaurant and have been inundated with takeaway and delivery orders for food and alcohol.

The restaurant is in a quiet village and we normally close at 10.30pm but the current situation means there is a demand for our takeaway and delivery services later into the evening. My premises licence permits the sale of alcohol until 10pm and there is no provision for late-night refreshment on there. I have read some comments online that rules have been relaxed and I can just continue operating beyond the times on my premises licence to meet demand as we are in the middle of a crisis. Is that correct?​ 

A: While planning laws have been relaxed and the Government has issued guidance to licensing authorities to take a pragmatic approach during this time, unfortunately you cannot disregard the terms of your premises licence.

If you wish to extend the times you can open and serve alcohol, add late-night refreshment or make any other changes, the best place to start is speaking with your local licensing officer at the council.

Licensing authorities are, in the main, trying to be very flexible and pragmatic while upholding licensing law. It is likely, however, that you may need to make an application to amend your premises licence, but the late-night refreshment could be permitted with a minor variation, and it may be possible to allow collection and delivery of alcohol after 10pm as long as the order has been specifically set aside before 10pm – in the meantime, you could be applying to add extra hours for the sale of alcohol if you need them. These are just ideas you can consider with your licensing officer. You could also issue temporary event (TEN) notices to cover the interim period.

Refurbishment proposal

Q: I recently closed my pub and I am not offering any takeaway services because I have furloughed my staff.

I was about to carry out an extensive refurbishment prior to the coronavirus outbreak but I have had to put that on hold.

I have some funds set aside that I would like to use to do some of the work myself, although on a much lesser scale. Can I do this and do I need to tell licensing authorities?​ 

A: As long as your premises remains closed, you can take advantage of this time to refurbish the premises. Whether you need to inform the licensing authority will depend upon the type of work you are doing to the premises.

If the layout shown on the licensing plans which attach to your premises licence will not change and you are just carrying out works that do not involve any structural changes, eg, decoration, laying new carpets or tiling floors, it is unlikely you will need to make an application for approval to the works.

If you are planning to do works that impact upon access and egress, structural changes or altering the licensed area, you will need to make an application either for a minor variation if the changes are minimal or a full variation for any significant changes, which could adversely impact upon the licensing objectives.

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

Related topics: Licensing law

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