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Department for Culture Media and Sport

premises licences

The Licensing Act 2003 ("the Act") amalgamates six licensing regimes covering the sale and supply of alcohol, the provision of regulated entertainment, the provision of late night refreshment. It replaces them with a single system of premises licences, sweeping away much unnecessary red tape.

Businesses now apply for a premises licence to authorise all the licensable activities they wish to carry on. 

Premises licences will not be time limited (unless requested), nor subject to renewal every three years (as was previously the case for liquor licences) or have a duration of only a year (as was the case for public entertainment licences). The fee charges for the premises licence will be the same no matter what or how many licensable activities will take place on the premises. Hearings on an application will only occur where representations from 'interested parties' or 'responsible authorities' are made, removing unnecessary administrative and legal overheads.

The Act abolishes standard drinking hours, increasing the options available for people in how to spend their leisure time, and encouraging the development of a more diverse late night economy. This represents a vast improvement over the old regime where establishments could only sell alcohol late at night if it was ancillary to other activities, usually music and dancing. This led to a relatively narrow night-time economy, patronised mostly by young people. The Act's reforms should encourage a more diverse evening economy for the whole community.

Ending fixed closing times will also remove the incentive to drink as much as possible before 11pm. It will facilitate a reduction in the density of drinkers on the streets at peak times which we know contributes to crime, disorder and nuisance.


Q&A

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Who can apply for a premises licence?

The principal category of those who can apply for a premises licence is anyone who proposes to carry on a business involving licensable activities on the premises. This covers any individual (aged at least 18) or business. Recognised clubs, charities, a proprietor of educational establishments, health service bodies and a chief officer of police may also apply for a premises licence.

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What does a premises licence and premises licence summary look like?

A premises licence will be in the form and contain  the information set out in Part A of Schedule 12 of the Licensing Act 2003 (Premises licences and club premises certificates) Regulations 2005.

A premises licence summary or certified copy of that summary, must be prominently displayed at the licensed premises. It will be in the form and contain the information set out in Part B of Schedule 12 of the Licensing Act 2003 (Premises licences and club premises certificates) Regulations 2005, and must be printed on A4 (or larger) paper.

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How do I apply for a premises licence?

An application for a premises licence must be made to the relevant licensing authority, that is, the authority within whose area the premises is situated. To make an application you must submit:

Licensing Application forms are available separately to print out, or fill in online. They can also be obtained, on request, from your licensing authority, and may also  be available on your Local Authority's website.

The Department has produced guidance for completing a premises licence application form.

Regulations made by the Secretary of State prescribe the form and manner of making the application. Copies of the application form, including any relevant accompanying documents, must be sent to the responsible authorities on the same day as the application is given to the relevant licensing authority. Applications must also be advertised to allow intrested parties to make representations.

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What is the process for making variations to a premises licence?
 
A premises licence holder may apply to the licensing authority to vary the licence. Variations could include the opening times of the premises, or even changes to the physical shape of the premises covered by the licence. More probably, it will relate to the licensable activities of the licence or conditions attached to the licence.
 
Application forms to vary premises licences are available separately.
 
Provided the application to vary is not to extend the period for which the licence has effect or to vary substantially the premises to which it relates, the licensing authority must make the variation (unless there are relevant representations from interested parties such as local residents or responsible authorities such as the police). When representations are made, the licensing authority must hold a hearing to consider them (unless all parties agree that this is unnecessary) and, having regard to the representations, take such steps as it considers necessary for the promotion of the licensing objectives, such as modifying the conditions of the licence or rejecting whole or part of the application.  A fee will be charged for any application to vary a premises licence.

DCMS is currently consulting on the Department’s Simplification Plan proposal to provide a simplified, low cost process for making minor variations to licences and certificates where those changes are likely to have no adverse impact on the four licensing objectives. The public consultation closes on 20 February 2008 and we welcome comments from anyone with an interest in this proposal.

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Can I make my application by e-mail?

Applications should be made to the relevant licensing authority in writing and it is for licensing authorities to take their own view on whether to accept applications received electronically. However, applicants should note that an application or notice should not be treated as given until the completed form, fee and plan or other document or information has been received by the relevant licensing authority.

Responsible authorities will decide independently whether to accept electronic applications.

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How are applications advertised?

In the case of an application for the grant or variation of a premises licence and for provisional statements, the person making the application must display a pale blue A4 (or larger) notice, printed legibly in black ink or typed in black, in a size equal (or larger) to 16 font, prominently at or on the premises to which the application relates. Where the premises covers an area of more than 50 metre squared, the same notice must be placed every 50 metres along the external perimeter of the premises. The notice must be displayed for 28 consecutive days, starting the day after the application is given to the relevant licensing authority.

In addition to this, they publish a notice in a local newspaper (or if there is none, in a local newsletter, circular or similar document) circulating in the vicinity of the premises, at least once during the 10 working days after the application is given to the relevant licensing authority.

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What information needs to be included in the advertisement?

In all cases, these notices need to state:

  • the name of the applicant
  • the postal address of the premises, or if none, a description to allow it to be identified
  • a statement of the licensable activities you propose to carry on
  • the postal and website address (if any) where the relevant licensing authority's register is kept and can be inspected
  • the date by which an interested party or responsible authority may make representations
  • that representations may be made in writing
  • that it is an offence knowingly or recklessly to make a false statement in connection with an application and the maximum fine for which a person is liable on summary conviction for the offence

In the case of an application for a provisional statement the notice shall state that representations are restricted after the issue of a provisional statement, and where known, may state the relevant licensable activities which it proposes to carry on.

In the case of an application to vary a premises licence, the notice must also briefly describe the proposed variation.

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What is the process following the advertisement?

Where no relevant representations are made by responsible authorities or interested parties the licensing authority must grant the licence application subject only to the mandatory conditions and such other conditions as are consistent with the operating schedule. If relevant representations are received, the licensing authority must hold a hearing and consider the representations (unless all parties agree that this is unnecessary). This may result in the rejection of the application, the refusal to specify a premises supervisor (if the licensable activities relate to the supply of alcohol), the exclusion of a licensable activity, or the attachment of conditions to the licence in all cases if this is necessary for the promotion of one or more of the licensing objectives. For example, a licensing authority could attach a condition preventing the playing of amplified music after 11pm for a pub in a quiet residential area.

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What is an operating schedule?

The operating schedule is a part of the relevant application form, in which  the applicant sets out various details on how the premises is proposed to operate when carrying on licensable activities. It must include the following information:

  • the licensable activities to be carried out
  • the proposed hours that the relevant licensable activities are to take place
  • the proposed hours that the premises are to be open to the public
  • the duration of the licence (if it is to have a fixed term)
  • details of who is to be the designated premises supervisor if the licensable activities include the supply of alcohol
  • where alcohol is to be supplied, whether the supplies are proposed to be for consumption on and/or off premises
  • a statement of the steps the applicant proposes to take to promote the licensing objectives (for example, the arrangements for door security to prevent crime and disorder)

The significance of the operating schedule is that if the application for the premises licence is granted, it will be incorporated into the licence itself and will set out the permitted activities and the limitations on them.

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What are the requirements relating to plans of premises?

A plan of the premises will have to be submitted with every application for a premises licence.  Unless previously agreed with the relevant licensing authority in writing that an alternative scale plan is acceptable, the plan should be drawn in standard scale (1 millemetre represents 100 millimetres). The plan will need to show:

  • the boundary of the building, if relevant, and any external and internal walls of the building and, if different, the perimeter of the premises
  • points of access and exits from the premises, and the location of escape routes if different
  • where the premises is to be used for more than one licensable activity, the area within the premises used for each activity
  • fixed structures (including furniture) or similar objects temporarily in a fixed location (but not furniture) which may impact  on exits and escape routes
  • the location and height of any stage or raised area or area relative to the floor
  • any steps, stairs, elevators or lifts
  • any room or rooms containing public conveniences
  • the location of a kitchen, if any, on the premises.

The plan may include symbols to illustrate such matters, and a key to explain them.

The Minister for Creative Industries and Tourism, James Purnell MP, has written a letter to Malcolm Moss MP on the areas on a premises to be included in a plan (PDF 147kb).

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Is it possible to complain to the licensing authority if a local pub, club, restaurant etc is applying for a premises licence?

Yes.  See the section on making representations about licences or applications.

The Department has also produced a guidance document for residents and local businesses about making representations.

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Is it possible to request a review of a premises licence for a local pub, club, restaurant etc that is already operating?

Yes. Again, see the section on making representations about licences or applications and the guidance for residents and local businesses.

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What is meant by 'in the vicinity of the premises'?

Ultimately this will be decided by the courts but the licensing authority will have to consider whether a resident or a business would be affected by the carrying on of licensable activities on the premises.

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What is the process for making variations to a premises licence?

A premises licence holder may apply to the licensing authority to vary the licence. Variations could include the opening times of the premises, or even changes to the physical shape of the premises covered by the licence. More probably, it will relate to the licensable activities of the licence or conditions attached to the licence.

Applications to vary premises licences are available separately.

Provided the application to vary is not to extend the period for which the licence has effect or to vary substantially the premises to which it relates, the licensing authority must make the variation (unless there are relevant representations from interested parties such as local residents or responsible authorities such as the police). When representations are made, the licensing authority must hold a hearing to consider them (unless all parties agree that this is unnecessary) and, having regard to the representations, take such steps as it considers necessary for the promotion of the licensing objectives, such as modifying the conditions of the licence or rejecting whole or part of the application.  A fee will be charged for any application to vary a premises licence.

DCMS is currently consulting on the Department’s Simplification Plan proposal to provide a simplified, low cost process for making minor variations to licences and certificates where those changes are likely to have no adverse impact on the four licensing objectives. The public consultation closes on 7 February and we welcome comments from anyone with an interest in this proposal.

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What is a designated premises supervisor (DPS)?

A designated premises supervisor (DPS) is the person identified as such for a particular premises who is named on the premises licence.  Any premises where alcohol is supplied under a premises licence must have a DPS.  They will be named in the operating schedule for any premises with a premises licence. The DPS will not necessarily be the premises licence holder, although this may sometimes be the case.  It is expected that they will be the point of contact for the premises at all times for licensing authorities, or the police or fire services if problems occur at the premises.

Any application for a premises licence must also include a form of consent given by the individual whom the applicant wishes to have specified in the premises licence as the DPS. The DPS consent form is available separately.

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Does the designated premises supervisor (DPS) have to be on the premises at all times when alcohol is being sold?

No, in some cases this will not physically be possible. However, it will be expected that the DPS will spend a significant amount of time on the premises. What will be essential is that the DPS is contactable, particularly should problems arise with the premises.

The Department has written to the Association of Convenience Stores on authorising sales of alcohol (PDF 142kb).

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Can I be a designated premises supervisor (DPS) at more than one premises at the same time?

Yes.  The only requirement for being a DPS is that the individual concerned must be the holder of a personal licence. This ensures that where the activities concern the supply of alcohol there is a person associated with the premises who has an understanding of the social issues and potential problems associated with the sale of alcohol.

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Can anyone object to a person who is specified as a designated premises supervisor (DPS)?

The chief officer of police only will be able to make representations about the specification of any DPS if he feels, in the exceptional circumstances of the case, that the crime prevention objective could be undermined by that specification. This could include fears that the DPS would not be able to fulfil the responsibilities in respect of the crime prevention objective for more than one premises at the same time. Where the chief officer of police makes representations about the DPS, the licensing authority must hold a hearing to consider them (unless all parties agree that this is unnecessary).  As a result of the consideration of the representations, the licensing authority will refuse to specify the DPS if it considers it necessary for the promotion of the crime prevention objective to do so.

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Can there be more than one designated premises supervisor (DPS) at the same premises?

The Act specifies that there may only be one DPS for any premises. 

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What happens if the designated premises supervisor (DPS) leaves his employment, notifies the licensing authority, but does not tell the premises licence holder?

The DPS must inform the relevant licensing authority if he or she wishes to be removed as DPS. Within 48 hours of the notice being given to the licensing authority, the individual must also give the premises licence holder a copy of the notice sent to the licensing authority. The DPS must also send a notice directing the licence holder to send to the relevant licensing authority the premises licence or if that is not practicable, a statement of the reasons for the failure to provide the licence within 14 days of receiving the notice.

If the holder fails to comply with the direction he will commit an offence.

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Do alcohol wholesalers require a licence to trade?

Yes in some cases.  For the first time, wholesalers will require a premises licence to sell alcohol in wholesale quantities to members of the public.  No sales of any kind may be made to children. Sales made to other traders for the purposes of their trade will not be a licensable activity. Similarly, sales made to holders of premises licences, club premises certificates or personal licences will not be a licensable activity if the sale is for the purposes authorised by the premises licence or for the purposes of the qualifying club.  Also exempt will be when alcohol is sold wholesale to premises users operating under a temporary event notice.  In all cases, it is advisable to check with the licensing authority for the area if the sale is a licensable activity and to avoid any potential problems.

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What is a "wholesale" quantity?

The Act does not provide a definition of "wholesale" quantity, which is to be contrasted with the provisions in the Licensing Act 1964, where the definition of "sale by retail" impliedly provides a definition. This is because the Act does not make special provision for the wholesale of alcohol to the public – all sales by retail are caught.

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Do I need a licence if I sell alcohol wholesale to friends from my own house?

All sales of alcohol to members of the public, even in wholesale quantities, from any premises will require an authorisation.  Any premises from which alcohol is supplied or sold will require either a premises licence, a club premises certificate or a temporary event notice. There will need to be a designated premises supervisor for the premises if the authorisation is in the form of a premises licence.

For a small-scale operation selling alcohol in bulk to friends, the applicant would still need an authorisation for the premises from which the alcohol is supplied or sold.  In all cases it will be advisable to consult the licensing authority for the area to check whether the activities will be licensable to avoid any repercussions.

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Do I need door staff if I extend my licensing hours?

Not necessarily. You may take the view that this is needed in order to promote one or more of the licensing objectives and include it in your operating schedule.  However, if you decide not to do so and relevant representations are made to the effect that door staff should be on the premises, such a condition may be imposed, following a hearing before the licensing authority, if it is necessary for the promotion of the licensing objectives. Each case will differ, and it will be up to the licensing authority to decide on the conditions such as the times that door staff must be in place following the consideration of relevant representations.

The Act requires that when the presence of door staff is made a condition on any premises licence, they must be licensed by the Security Industry Authority (SIA)

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What International Airports, Ports and Hoverports are "designated"?


Ports:
Folkestone
Ramsgate

Airports:

Birmingham

Blackpool
Bournemouth (Hurn)
Bristol
Cardiff-Wales
Coventry
Exeter
Humberside
Leeds/Bradford
Liverpool
London City
London-Gatwick
London-Heathrow
London-Stansted
Luton
Manchester International

Manston (now known as Kent International)
Newcastle
Norwich

Nottingham East Midlands

Sheffield City
Southampton
Southend
Teeside

Hoverports:
Pegwell Bay
Dover

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