Published: 02 April 2015
Q: I operate a late night bar and historically have always had a condition on my licence which limited the capacity of the premises to 250 people. I recently undertook a minor variation of the licence due to some refurbishment works being carried out at the premises and my amended licence no longer has the capacity condition upon it. I have spoken to the local Licensing Officer who has told me that there is no longer a need for capacities to be stated on the licence as a result of changes in fire legislation. Is this correct? Can I now allow more people in the premises?
A: Capacities used to be stated on licences as a matter of course. As a result of changes in fire legislation approximately 10 years ago you as the operator of the premises are now responsible for determining the safe capacity and abiding by it. It is not therefore simply a case of permitting as many people in the premises as you wish. You should have a competent person undertake a full fire risk assessment of the premises and part of that will be to arrive at a safe capacity which should then be abided by. You could be prosecuted if you fail to do so and particularly if there was a problem at the premises and people could not get out quickly enough
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