Draft Business and Planning Bill – what does it mean for hospitality operators? - Kuits Solicitors Manchester
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Draft Business and Planning Bill – what does it mean for hospitality operators?

Draft Business and Planning Bill – what does it mean for hospitality operators?

25th June 2020 - Published by

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s guidance comes the draft Business and Planning Bill, which introduces some sweeping changes to licensing and planning regimes, to the benefit of many hospitality operators.

Whilst there is no specific indication of timescales in terms of this Bill passing through Parliament, we would hope this will be pushed through fairly quickly to coincide with the reopening of the hospitality sector. Subject to any changes throughout the process, this Bill deals with two key areas.

Firstly, external furniture to be placed on a public highway. Usually, this requires a licence, the consultation process for which takes at least 28 days. The Bill introduces a new ‘pavement licence’, for which operators can apply to their local authority. The consultation period for such licence is 7 days, so essentially represents a streamlined process to get these licences granted quicker. Local authorities can still refuse these licences on various grounds, for example if the proposal would obstruct the highway for pedestrian access, and must take account any representations made when making that decision.

The local authority can determine the length of time these licences last for, but this will be a minimum of three months. In the absence of a duration specified, they will last until 30 September 2021.

Crucially, the grant of one of these licences would also confer deemed planning permission for the use of that furniture for the lifetime of the licence, which avoids the need for lengthy planning applications.

Secondly, changes are to be made to the Licensing Act 2003 in respect of off sales. Any business with a current licence permitting sale of alcohol on the premises on the relevant date (to be confirmed) will automatically be deemed to have permission for off sales too, for the same hours. This will permit off sales for takeaway, for consumption in premises external areas or for delivery.

Further, any conditions on licences (including those with existing on and off permissions) which are inconsistent with off sales are suspended. This would include conditions which limit off sales in open containers (but this won’t apply to premises with an off licence only).

There are some restrictions. This automatic right does not apply to any premises which has been specifically refused an off licence (by way of new licence or variation) in the last 3 years, or which has had off sales removed or restricted in the last three years by way of application or review.

Finally, operators should not see this as carte blanche to operate off sales in any way they may wish. The Draft Bill provides summary review powers to allow responsible authorities to seek to remove the new off sales permission in the event of issues arising. Furthermore, operators should be aware of their continuing general obligation to uphold the licensing objectives, in particular considering nuisance that may be caused by external drinking. In this regard they should be alive to residents who may feel aggrieved by this general relaxation and may respond by complaining and pushing for enforcement action to be taken against operators who they perceive to be behaving inappropriately.

For advice on how these changes (when they come into force) will specifically affect your proposals for reopening, contact Rebecca Ingram on 0161 838 7888 or rebeccaingram@kuits.com

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