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Statement of Licensing Policy (SOLP)

The Statement of Licensing Policy is key in the decision making process.

You may be familiar with your local council’s statement of licensing policy (SOLP) and, whilst it may not look much like holiday reading, it underpins how licensing is dealt with and affects how you will be able to operate your licensed premises. Understanding what the SOLP says, and the reasons behind it, are key both to your day to day operation and to any changes you may wish to make to your premises licence.

All SOLPs will start by considering the four licensing objectives and set out the general approach that the authority will take in licensing matters. An SOLP cannot, of course, override the law, however it will be able to put into practice local initiatives, allowing an authority to shape their approach by what is important to them on a local level. Businesses that wish to operate in the area will have to be mindful of what it says. We deal with licensing authorities up and down the country and the detail within each SOLP varies significantly. If you have different businesses in different areas you will have to bear this in mind.

A good example of this would be an SOLP with a cumulative impact area. Cumulative impact has spread across the country through many local councils including it as part of their licensing policy. An application for a new premises licence in a cumulative impact policy area would be scrutinised very differently to one perhaps just down the road but in a different council area without one.

Planning is also dealt with very differently across the county. Planning is a separate regime to licensing however some policies take a stricter view on licensing applications that do not have the corresponding planning permission, which can lead to objections to a licensing application and ultimately a hearing.

Many SOLPs also include model “pools” of conditions or general wording about the types of things an applicant should consider. What is appropriate for Westminster is not always the same as for Manchester.

Licensing authorities are required to publish an SOLP every five years and keep it under review. Before determining its policy and making any changes, the licensing authority will consult with various persons including the police, local licence holders and residents. This is your chance to have a say on how your local licensing policy will look. Given the fundamental role that the SOLP plays in decision making, this is a good opportunity for you to get involved and ensure that your views are being heard.

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