Published: 16 June 2016 by Helen Cardy
There are many reasons why a licence holder may wish to change the terms of their premises licence. Small administrative changes and DPS variations have their own straightforward processes. Any other changes, for example to the hours, activities, conditions or plans attached to the licence are likely to require an application.
Before 2009, very slight licence changes could be dealt with informally. More significant changes required a variation (referred to as a “full” or a “major” variation – here I will use the term “full variation”). These require a notice to be displayed on the premises for the 28 day consultation period, an advert in the paper and attract a council fee ranging from £100 to £1,905. If representations are received to the application which cannot be resolved, the decision will be made by the Licensing Sub Committee.
In 2009, a new “minor variation” procedure was introduced. The purpose of this new procedure was to allow uncontentious licence changes to be processed more quickly and cheaply. The fee is £89, there is a shorter consultation period, less consultees and no newspaper advert required. However, with minor variations the final decision rests with the Licensing Authority. If they think the application could not adversely affect the licensing objectives, they must grant it. Otherwise, they must refuse it.
Deciding whether the changes you are planning should be a minor or a full variation can be a delicate matter. On the one hand, the minor variation procedure can save you time and expense. However, if it is rejected and you submit a full variation you will have to wait even longer for the changes to be dealt with and incur further costs than if you had submitted a full variation in the first place. Here is some guidance to help you, and if in any doubt take legal advice.
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