Generally when I am instructed to review a client’s premises licence I will check the plans attached to the licence. Time and again I have found that the plans are out-dated, where the premises has obviously evolved over the years with refurbishments and alterations but the client has failed to update the licensing plans.
Plans attached to the premises licence form a part of the premises licence and if you do not trade in accordance with these plans you may be breaching your licence, liable to prosecution or an unlimited fine and in some cases enforcement action may be taken by the licensing authority.
With this in mind, here is a checklist of what must be shown on your plans:
Your licensing plan must be clear and legible (there is no longer a prescribed scale);
- The extent of the boundary of the building (including any external and internal walls) and, if different, the perimeter of the premises;
- The location of points of access to and from the premises, including escape routes from the premises.
- The location and type of any fire safety and any other safety equipment;
- Where the premises are used for more than one existing licensable activity, the area within the premises used for each activity. It may be, and in many premises is the case, that the whole premises are licensed for all activities, and there Is no need for any particular delineation. In practice, many Councils like the public areas to be edged in red although this is not strictly a legal requirement. It is generally regarded as good practice. An example of different delineation which I have used is when hotel bedrooms are part of the licensed premises for the use of minibars. There is no other licensable activity (no entertainment or late night refreshment) in those bedrooms and so if the ground floor trading area is edged in red to cover all three licensable activities, it would be sensible to, say, edge the bedrooms in blue to differentiate them and to emphasise that they are licensed for the sale of alcohol only.
- Fixed structures (e.g. the bar or seating) or similar objects temporarily in a fixed location which may impact on the ability of individuals on the premises to use exits or escape routes without impediment. The main point is to show those items which could impede the safe passage of customers out of the premises in the event of an emergency;
- Any stage or raised area, and the location and height of each stage or area relative to the floor;
- Any steps, stairs, elevators or lifts and their location;
- The location of any room or rooms containing public conveniences, where relevant;
- The location of a kitchen, if any, on the premises.
- You may wish to include a legend illustrating the above by the use of symbols on the plan, which may be helpful to indicate fire safety and other safety equipment.
The above is what you must show on the plan. Anything else you show is optional.
If changes to your plans are required then you are ‘at risk’. Many licensing authorities will allow you to continue to trade whilst your minor variation application is processed but this is not universally the case. As a rule of thumb, the greater the change required to the plans the more likely some or all of your premises may be required to close whilst you submit your application to bring your licensed plans up to date. Even so, better that than being invited for interview under caution for trading otherwise than in accordance with your licence.
So review your premises licence plan. Check it mirrors how you trade your premises and if it does not, ensure you take prompt action to apply for a variation application to amend the plans.