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Applications for late opening

15 June 2006
Applications for late opening

The Problem
My application to open later - until 1am - has been turned down, as the council say my pub is in an area that's reached saturation point. What options do I have?

The Law
Your council has adopted a "cumulative impact policy". A council may adopt such a policy where it has evidence that because of a high concentration of licensed premises in a particular area the licensing objectives are being adversely affected.

The licensing objectives which the council must promote are as follows:

  • Prevention of crime and disorder.
  • Public safety.
  • Prevention of public nuisance
  • Protection of children from harm.

Councils generally adopt such a policy if there's a problem within a specific area with crime and disorder, and/or public nuisance. You need to understand the reason for the policy and what the council was trying to achieve by adopting it.

Expert Advice
Your first option is to appeal against the council's decision, and your second is to look at your initial application, improve on it and resubmit a new application to the council.

You need to consider whether your application can be framed in such a way, or whether your premises can be set apart from other licensed premises in the area, to satisfy the council that you're an exception.

If you believe that the policy should no longer apply because you have produced evidence that the policy is simply dispersing the problem, then you should raise this with the council. It may result in the council removing the cumulative impact policy or granting your application.

If your customers support your application and don't wish to be forced on to the street to look for an alternative venue, then you must produce this evidence. Forcing your customers out early may have a negative impact on the licensing objectives. It may be far more sensible for your customers to remain within your premises and for you to support this by ensuring that you have appropriate arrangements for their dispersal. This could include notices requesting customers to leave quietly, and arrangements with local taxi firms. You need to consider what you can do as a responsible operator to ensure the objectives are met and thus set your application apart.

When submitting an application in an area subject to a cumulative impact policy, you need to address the policy in your application. If you don't, you leave the council no alternative but to refuse your application. If you are a restaurant or a hotel, then it should be quite easy to set your premises apart.

Check List
If your initial application didn't address the cumulative impact policy, attempt to persuade the council, or illustrate that your application should be an exception, then you will struggle with an appeal.

You may, of course, offer additional conditions and produce better evidence and ultimately be successful, but you may not be awarded costs and this could therefore be an expensive route. It would also be sensible to find out how long the magistrates' court is taking to hear an appeal - it could be months. A better option may be to submit a new application.

If your application before the council was properly made, you addressed the policy in your application, and offered conditions and evidence to prove that your premises would not have a negative impact on the licensing objectives, then your only option may be to appeal to the magistrates. If you can show your application should have been granted and the council acted unreasonably, you may be successful with your application and in an award for costs.

Contact

Lisa Sharkey, Poppleston Allen 0115 953 8500 www.popall.co.uk
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