Top Tips: Making the most out of your premises

Licensing hub: top tips from Poppleston Allen (Credit:Getty/	sturti)
Licensing hub: top tips from Poppleston Allen (Credit:Getty/ sturti)

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The hospitality industry is in the midst of navigating a very challenging time. The effects of the pandemic and economic challenges have posed unprecedented difficulty for the trade.

Recognising this, we have outlined below our top tips on how to make the most of your premises whether it be in its current form or additional steps you can take to try and boost trade.

1. Know your premises licence

It’s basic, but it’s vital. Your premises licence is the document which permits you to carry out the licensable activities which form the basis of your business.

Your premises licence outlines your licensable activities, permitted hours and licence conditions. This information will allow you to note what activities you are permitted to carry out, at what times and any limitations imposed by your conditions.

Take care to note seasonal variations and non-standard timings which may permit additional trading hours on days preceding bank holidays and the commencement of British Summer Time.

In depth guidance on the provisions under the Business and Planning Act 2020 can be read here.

2. Get clued up on your plans

Your premises licence plan delineates your licensed area. Your plans should be attached to the main part of your premises licence. Look for where you can conduct licensable activities; usually, but not always, delineated by a red line.

The use of external areas can be confusing. You may find that your external area does not form part of the licensed area, or it may not be included at all. The consumption of alcohol is not licensable. Provided your licence permits the sale of alcohol for consumption on and off the premises, and there are no conditions prohibiting or limiting off sales, your customers will be able to order and consume their drinks outside in accordance with the hours listed on your licence.

Please note however until 31 March 2025, the off-sales relaxation under the Business and Planning Act 2020 remains in force. The Act provides an automatic extension to most premises licenses which only permit the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises to allow the sale of alcohol for consumption off the premises. The Act also temporarily suspends existing licence conditions which limit off-sales permissions.

3. Consider using your Temporary Event Notice allowance

Once you are clued up on your premises licence, you’ll have a better understanding of what you can do and where you can do it. On occasion you may want to plan a one off event that falls outside the permissions on your premises licence, this is where a Temporary Event Notice (‘TEN’) can be applied for.

TENs are designed to make provision for small scale one off events where your premises licence does not meet the needs of a particular event. For example, you may wish to extend your hours or place a temporary bar in an unlicensed area to service customers during notable events.

Further guidance on TENs can be found here.

4. Know how the variation process works

You may be considering a permanent extension to hours, removal of outdated or onerous licence conditions or a refurb to your existing layout. This is where the variation process kicks in.

Changes to layout such as internal walls and fixed seating may be possible by way of minor variation, provided the Licensing Authority are satisfied that the change will not adversely impact upon the licensing objectives. Some changes like breakfast opening for non-licensable activities, or amending certain conditions may also be achieved by way of minor variation but this will depend on the facts of each situation.

Variations to add the sale of alcohol or to increase the hours during which alcohol may be sold will require a full variation of your premises licence. If your changes are regarded as a substantial variation, a new premises licence may be required.

More information on minor and full variations can be found here.

5. Make the most out of your outside space

The pandemic saw a surge in demand for alfresco dining. Where your premises abut a public highway, you may be able to apply for a pavement licence to allow you to place tables and chairs on the highway to increase seating areas for customers.

As of 31 March 2024, the temporary fast-track pavement licence regime introduced during Covid was made permanent. More information on what this means can be found here.

6. Considering opening a new premises and need a premises licence? Get in touch.

The above covers a range of different areas, some more technical than others. For advice on any of the topics covered please do get in touch with one of our licensing solicitors, we would be more than happy to help.

Related topics Licensing Hub

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