If you want to sell alcohol or provide ‘licensable activities’ from a particular venue then you will need to obtain a premises licence under the Licensing Act 2003.

Licensable activities include:

  • selling alcohol
  • serving hot food and drinks between 11:00pm and 5:00am

The following types of entertainment:

  • theatrical performance
  • showing a film
  • indoor sporting event
  • boxing or wrestling (indoor or outdoor)
  • live music
  • recorded music
  • dance
  • facilities for making music
  • dancing facilities.

You still need a licence even if the activities are for charity.

If you wish to sell alcohol you will also need a Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS); someone who holds a Personal Licence qualification.

Obtaining a premises licence

In order to obtain a premises licence you will need to apply on the relevant forms to the Licensing Authority for the area where you wish to operate. The application will need to be sent to all responsible authorities who include the police and environmental health.

Birketts advise that you consult with the relevant authorities prior to submitting the application as it is easier to iron out any concerns by negotiation and communication than dealing with any representations at a sub-committee hearing. The application needs to be advertised in the local circulating paper and also advertised in the vicinity – there are strict rules relating to the format these advertisements must take; failure to comply can have a detrimental effect on your application. It is also important to ensure that the plan accompanying your application conforms to the regulations.

If there are no objections to your application after 28 days it should be granted; if objections are received the matter will be listed for a sub-committee hearing where parties are provided with the opportunity to make and address any representations. Prior to the sub-committee hearing time is best spent seeking to address any concerns that have been raised. Any agreements reached, for example an agreement to have CCTV installed, can be made a condition of the operating schedule.

Most premises licences have an unlimited duration but you will have to pay an annual fee.

Once granted it is important to understand the terms of your premises licence; failure to comply with the conditions could result in you committing an offence and you could be fined, sent to prison for up to six months months, or both.