The layout plan forms part of your premises licence. It is, therefore, essential that the plan attached to your licence truly reflects the layout of your premises. It is a criminal offence not to maintain the licence plan in line with the layout of your premises.
If you are considering making changes to the layout of your premises, it is likely that you will need to apply to have your licence varied. We have set out below a non-exhaustive list of changes/alterations to your premises that will require a variation application to change the layout plan:
- Change of access and egress to and from the premises
- Change in fire escape routes
- Removal/addition of internal walls
- Installation of a new bar
- Removal of an existing bar
- Increasing/reducing size of an existing bar
- Changes in layout/location of kitchens
- Change in layout/location of any stage/performance area
- Removal/installation of walls and/or partitions
- Changes in fixed seating
- Addition of new floors within the premises
- Converting previously non-public areas into publicly accessible areas
You should seek legal advice in advance of carrying out work at your premises to determine whether or not a formal application is required. If you have already carried out alterations to your premises, but you did not get these approved, you should seek retrospective approval from the local authority for the work that has been carried out. It is better to be up front and transparent with the authorities and have the changes approved, even if the work has already been completed.
There are two processes for seeking approval for layout changes. In most cases these can be dealt with by way of a minor variation. More significant layout changes may require a full variation to your licence.
A minor variation to a licence is defined as one that could not have an adverse impact on the licensing objectives. The licensing authority are likely to accept this process for small changes to the structure or layout of your premises. The fee for a minor variation is £89.
You are not required to advertise the variation in the local newspaper, however, you must display a notice on your premises detailing the terms of the variation.
There is a 10-working day consultation process at the end of which the authority has a further 5 working days in which to determine the application. Should the minor variation application attract objections), there will not be a hearing, and the application will automatically be refused.
Where the layout changes are significant (i.e. the addition of a new floor or bar servery) it is likely that these will require a full variation.
The council application fee is dependent on the non-domestic rateable value of your premises and the application must be advertised in the local newspaper. A blue notice detailing the terms of the variation must be displayed on your premises for 28 days, the duration of the statutory consultation period.
Following the end of the consultation period, considering there are no objections to the variation, the changes will be approved. If there are objections to the layout changes, which are unusual and unlikely to happen, then a hearing will be required and this must take place within 20 working days of the end of the consultation period.
If you are considering carrying out works to your premises, we would advise you to seek legal advice and early engagement with the authorities, as well as ideally to obtaining the necessary licence approval in advance of the works commencing.
Please note that this information is for general guidance only and should not substitute professional legal advice. If you have specific concerns, we recommend consulting one of our legal experts.