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Change of Use

Which licence do I apply for first: planning or licensing?

Q:  I have recently bought a bank which has been closed for several months and I want to turn it into a pub. I will need planning change of use and a Premises Licence but should I apply for one before the other?

A:  This is an important consideration.  You will need both planning change of use and a new Premises Licence before you open as a pub.  In terms of which should go first, if any, then much will depend on the situation of the premises; how long has it been closed?  Is it near other licensed premises?  Does it have residential accommodation nearby or is it principally retail and is it in an area which the licensing policy identifies as being saturated or otherwise known as in a cumulative impact area?  What does the planning policy say about another premises with A4 use? 

The advice would usually be to submit the planning application first and indeed wait for the result of that; hopefully a grant.  The reasons for this are that although the two regimes are completely separate some Local Authorities prefer planning to be in place prior to licensing.  In addition, planning is more consultative and may satisfy local residents’ concerns rather than having two applications running at the same time which, in my experience, can cause confusion and can lead to greater resistance to both applications. 

However, there are good reasons not to wait for the submission and/or grant of the planning application.  Firstly, there is the commercial consideration. Your negotiations with your prospective landlord may not allow you the luxury of awaiting the submission or outcome of your planning application before commencing the licensing process. Such a delay would be avoided if you had both applications running simultaneously. 

Secondly, from your research, you may find that the planners are likely to welcome the change of use application but by way of contrast your premises are in a saturation zone and the licensing application is going to be more problematic. 

There would, in this scenario, be a good argument for not wasting time and money on the easier planning application but to address the more difficult licensing application as soon as possible.

As always with these matters, early consultation with the Authorities and legal advice would both be recommended.

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