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Top Tips - What to consider when changing your operation

The past year has seen some surprises in the changing shape of the country. You may also be thinking of a new direction for your business, perhaps a grand scheme which completely changes the style of operation or just some minor tweaks.  Maybe you want to start offering a full food service, showing sports, putting in a new roof terrace or becoming a live music venue.  Before you get going, consider your permissions and what you may need to do:

  • Change takes time and even small alterations can take longer than you anticipate. You should prepare for delays, for example, if you put in a licensing application which receives objections and has to be determined at a hearing.
  • Consider your premises licence.  If you want to put a new bar in an existing beer garden you will need to think about the plans and where licensable activities can take place, along with any conditions. If you wanted to start live music then you will need to think about whether this would be permitted under the Live Music Act or if you need specific permission on your premises licence. Do you need to apply for any later hours for licensable activities?
  • Many changes require multiple permissions to be altered. Check there are no restrictions on your planning permission and your lease. You may also need new permissions, for example, if you want to start showing live sports, a PPL / PRS licence and copyright permission to show the images themselves may be required, and potentially permission for films on the premises licence if you are showing any pre-recorded images.
  • Maintain your relationships with your neighbours, Local Authority and Police officers.  It may be sensible to discuss your plans with them, especially if you are considering a large scale change, as there will inevitably be questions about the new operation.  If you are putting in a new bar in the garden, neighbours may have concerns about an increase in noise, for example. If you are upfront with these changes you are less likely to get any surprises later on, which can cause delays and disappointment.
  • If you are looking at a big change in the operation you may need to re-think the whole management of the business.  Will your customer demographic change? Do you need more or different staff training? Do you need to take on a whole host of new staff?  There will be a number of management issues which you should have carefully planned out to assist with a smooth transition.

Change can be an incredibly exciting thing and can re-invigorate a business, but make sure you plan carefully. If in any doubt, take legal advice.

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