Licensing application could be varied

Posted: 10th December 2012

PubIn a decision of importance to proprietors of licensed premises, a High Court judge has ruled that it is lawful for retrospective amendments to be made to licence applications in the light of objections received, even after the expiry of the statutory period for advertisement and consultation has expired.

The proprietors of a bar in central Manchester had applied to vary the premises licence in order to extend the number of hours during which alcohol could be sold and entertainment provided. They also sought permission for extensive remodelling of the premises, partitioning it into two separate venues, and for a new and independent means of access and egress.

In the light of objections from local residents, significant changes were made to the application, including the withdrawal of the application for an extension of hours and modification of access and egress proposals. That was done after the application had been duly advertised and consulted upon in accordance with the Licensing Act 2003 but prior to the local authority’s consideration and approval of the application.

In dismissing a resident’s appeal against that decision, Mr Justice Hickinbottom said that it was commonplace for proprietors to seek to revise licence applications in the light of subsequent representations made by objectors and that the important point of practice raised by the case had never before been considered by the courts.

On the facts of the case, it had been lawful for the local authority to proceed to a determination of the revised licence application, the terms of which were likely to be less onerous from the point of view of objectors than those of the original application.