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By Andy Grimsey, partner at Poppleston Allen

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Awaiting decision: the Government is currently consulting on potentially relaxing licensing hours for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, Poppleston Allen says (image: Getty/Gudella)
Awaiting decision: the Government is currently consulting on potentially relaxing licensing hours for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, Poppleston Allen says (image: Getty/Gudella)

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So, we enter the New Year and it has a surprisingly and rather depressingly familiar feel to it. Putting Covid-related matters aside for once (if that is even possible nowadays) let’s look at some of the more positive things to come in the licensing calendar for 2022.

The Government is presently consulting on whether to relax licensing hours across England and Wales to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on 2 June 2022.  The Government proposes to make a Licensing Hours Order under S172 of the Licensing Act 2003, which would extend opening hours from 23:00 to 01:00 on Thursday 2 June, Friday 3 June and Saturday 4 June, ending on Sunday 5 June, for the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises and the provision of regulated entertainment in licensed premises in England and Wales.

As a curious feature of this particular provision, the Government (and the Act itself) use the words ‘opening hours’ to denote licensable activities.  Traditionally, the time you can stay open after 01:00 is generally your additional ‘open to the public’ hours on your licence – these are often 30 minutes or an hour after the last sale of alcohol.

It is not proposed that off-licences or premises that provide only late night refreshment, for example, takeaways, will benefit from this relaxation.  So, supermarkets and off-licences, and late night refreshment venues (which by definition are already licensed from 23:00 and unlikely to benefit from a relaxation) will not be affected.

The provisions under S172 of the Act allow the Secretary of State to make an Order relaxing licensing hours in this way.  Since the introduction of the 2003 Act, this national power has been used to mark the Royal Weddings in 2011 and 2018, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, the World Cup in 2014, the Queen’s 90th​ birthday celebrations in 2016 and the 2020 UEFA European Championship final.

The consultation ends on 26 January 2022 and the link is here – https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/the-queens-platinum-jubilee-relaxation-of-licensing-hours/relaxation-of-licensing-hours-for-her-majesty-the-queens-platinum-jubilee

One of the reasons that the Government wishes to extend licensing hours for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is so that licensed businesses do not have to use any Temporary Event Notices to achieve the same end.  There is good news here as well, because for the years 2022 and 2023 only the maximum number of TENs which may be given in relation to the same premises in the calendar year has been increased from 15 to 20, and the number of days in the calendar year on which a single premises can be used to carry on licensable activities, from 21 to 26 days.

Towards the end of last year the Government also ran a consultation seeking views on temporary permitted development rights under planning legislation in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.  Some of these rights were introduced to help support businesses in reopening and provide flexibility to encourage use of outdoor spaces. 

The first, and perhaps most important is the right for the provision of moveable structures within the curtilage of a pub, café, restaurant or historic visitor attraction.  The Government suggests a height limit of 4 metres and a size limit of 50% of the footprint of the existing building on site.  There will also be a minimum distance from a residential boundary. Temporary rights in this respect expired on 1 January 2022, but the Government has confirmed that these will be made permanent. 

Jonathan Phillips, a planning expert at Bidwells, said: “This affords leisure operators every opportunity to maximise use of their outside space throughout the year, in all types of weather, and must be a welcome relief that the temporary benefits derived from such provision in the past 18 months can be relied upon for the foreseeable future.” 

The right extends to listed buildings and protected historic sites for a limit of 120 days each year.

The second permitted development right relates to markets being held by or on behalf of Local Authorities, and is currently extended until 23rd​ March 2022.  The Government considers that this too should be made permanent and will confirm whether there should be a limit on the number of days such a market (including moveable structures) could be held.  None of these rights nor the consultation relate to requirements under licensing law. 

The proposals only relate to England.

The consultation made it clear that two other temporary permitted development rights implemented in response to the Coronavirus pandemic were not subject to the consultation.  The first, allowing pubs, cafes and restaurants to operate as takeaways without needing to apply for change of use will not be extended beyond 23 March 2022. 

The Government says this right was in place to support businesses which needed to operate solely as a takeaway due to Coronavirus restrictions, as this would usually constitute a change in use under planning law. These venues are able to continue to operate a takeaway as ancillary to their main business in the absence of this right and as such the right can fall away. The second is a right which allows for additional days for the temporary use of land for any purpose, doubling the days allowed from 28 to 56 in 2020 and subsequently in 2021.  This right expired on 31 December 2021 and it is not proposed to extend the additional days.

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