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10 June 2022 | Comment | Article by Martin Jones

What is a premises licence and when do you need one?

As licensing week continues, on day 3 of the week, Leah Ellison considers premises licences and club premises certificates, starting with an overview of what premises licences are and how you can get one.

What is a premises licence?

A premises licence can permit a premises to do any one or more of the following Licensable Activities:

  1. Supply alcohol;
  2. Provide late night refreshment (between 11pm and 5am);
  3. Provide regulated entertainment including:
    • Plays
    • Showing films
    • Indoor sporting events
    • Boxing or wrestling entertainment
    • Live music
    • Recorded music
    • Performances of dance.

In short, any premises looking to provide any of the above, will need to be licensed to do so under the Licensing Act 2003. You do not need a separate licence for each activity you wish to be licensed for and they can all be applied for in the same application. In some instances, a Club Premises Certificate (CPC) may be more appropriate. These are considered below.

How do I obtain a premises licence?

To obtain a premises licence, you will need to submit an application to your local licensing authority. The application must be accompanied by a plan of the premises. This plan must meet the requirements as in the Licensing Act 2003 (Premises licences and club premises certificates) Regulations 2005, SI 2005/42. Details of the requirements for the plan can be found here.

If you are applying to sell alcohol, you will also need to provide details of the intended Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) with your application. The DPS must hold a valid personal licence and they must consent to be appointed as the DPS (this signed consent must accompany the application).. There may be any number of personal licence holders at the premises, but only one DPS is required. Our Nicola Jordan has discussed personal licences as part of National Licensing Week Day 1.

There is also a fee payable for the application, which is fixed dependant on the rateable value of the premises.

Licensing objectives

There are four licensing objectives. When considering an application for a premises licence, the licensing authority will consider whether the business meets the licensing objectives in deciding whether to grant the licence. These form the main consideration of the licensing committee.

The four licensing objectives are:

  1. Prevention of crime and disorder
  2. Public safety
  3. Prevention of public nuisance, and
  4. The protection of children from harm.

In your application, you will need to detail how you seek to promote the licensing objectives. Applicants should detail conditions that they will implement to promote the objectives.

Before making your application, it may be useful to consult the local authority’s statement of licensing policy (available on their website) as often they will include suggested conditions to promote the licensing objectives.

The application process

Once an application has been submitted, notice must be displayed in the local newspaper and at the premises. The day after the licensing authority has received the application begins the clock of the consultation period which lasts for 28 days. It is during these 28 days that representations can be made in support of or against the application; this could be by individuals (“interested parties”) or responsible authorities.

If no adverse representations are received, then the licence can be issued at the conclusion of the consultation period.

If adverse representations are received, it is important to liaise with those parties. Often, through mediation conditions can be agreed to and the representations withdrawn. However, if there is no successful resolution through mediation, then a licensing sub-committee meeting will be held where representations will be heard from all parties.

Club Premises Certificates

A Club Premises Certificate (or ‘CPC’) is a certificate that authorises the supply of alcohol and/or the provision of regulated entertainment in a qualifying club. A Club can only apply for a CPC if the provision of alcohol/regulated entertainment is for members and their bona fide guests only. If the Club intends to provide Licensable Activities to the general public, then a premises licence will be needed. Note that there is no DPS requirement if a premises operates under a CPC. Clubs can hold both a CPC and a premises licence, though will need to be clear when they are operating under which (as they may have different conditions). To discuss licensing needs for your Club, please do not hesitate to contact our regulatory team.

How can we help?

Whether you’re applying for a licence for the first time, looking to vary an existing licence, or transfer an existing licence, we can assist with any applications. Our licensing team are able to assist at all stages of the process from initial application to sub-committee hearing to appeal. Get in touch with our dedicated Licensing team, using the button below.

Author bio

Martin Jones


As the Head of the Regulatory Department, Martin acts in a wide-range of regulatory crime and professional regulation matters. Martin has built up over 20 years of experience and a wealth of specialist knowledge.

He leads the firm’s cross-departmental alcohol and gaming licensing teams. Additionally Martin manages the teams providing a range of outsourced services to local authorities, including court representation of local authorities Adult and Children’s Services Departments.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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