Q: I have a small café and am interested in offering a small selection of beers and wines to customers to enjoy alongside the food offering. I have spoken to my local Licensing Officer and had a look at the Council's Licensing Policy and it appears that my café falls within a Cumulative Impact Policy Area. Does this mean that my licence application would automatically be refused?
A: The existence of a Cumulative Impact Policy Area means that there is a presumption of refusal of applications for new licences within the defined area. However, that Policy will only be triggered in the event that someone makes a representation to your application which then drives it to a Licensing Committee hearing. It may be prudent to have a word with the Police to see whether they would be happy especially if you are able to offer a restaurant condition i.e. that alcohol will only be sold with food. If you are only seeking limited hours then that may also help you. Even if the Police agree not to object to your application you may not be able to control whether residents object and therefore the Policy may be triggered anyway. Even if you have to go to a licensing hearing facing some opposition you may be able to satisfy the Committee that your limited sales of alcohol and general style of your operation will not add to the existing problems within the area and that therefore your licence should be granted in any event. If you run into any difficulties it may well be an idea to seek specialist legal advice.
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