Published: 15 May 2014
Q: I have recently taken over a city centre bar and restaurant. As part of the refurbishment and rebranding of the business, I wish to make a number of structural and operational changes. These will involve moving the bar and adding an additional means of escape. Having studied the Premises Licence in detail, there a number of outdated and obsolete conditions that I would like to remove in order to tidy up the licence. Can I do all of this by way of minor variation?
A: From the information you have given me, there is a possibility that the minor variation application process may be appropriate in your case, but much will depend upon the extent of the works and the nature of the conditions.
The starting point for all minor variations is that they must not impact adversely on any of the four licensing objectives. Minor variations generally fall into four categories: minor changes to the structure or layout of the premises; small adjustments to the licensing hours; the removal of out of date, irrelevant or unenforceable conditions; and the addition of certain licensable activities.
To determine whether or not your proposed changes are likely to be treated as a minor or full variation, I would recommend an early phone call to your local licensing team. Remember that if your works would result in an increase in the capacity for drinking in the premises, access being affected between the public part of the premises and the rest of the premises, or impeding the effective operation of a noise reduction measure such as an acoustic lobby, the Government’s guidance states that such changes should be referred to the full variation process. In the case of your application, as you are making changes to the layout, you will need to include a revised plan. Indeed failure to provide sufficient information may lead to a refusal of your application.
As part of your minor variation application, the licensing authority must consult with relevant responsible authorities if there is doubt about the impact of the variation on the licensing objectives or they need specialist advice. And remember that although there is no right to a hearing, the licensing authority must take any representations into account in arriving at a decision. Accordingly, a discussion about your planned changes with your neighbours would also be advisable.
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