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Changes to the Planning Regime

The interrelation between the planning regime and the alcohol licensing regime can be a common source of frustration for residents. Unfortunately, a change to the planning regime which came into force on 30 May 2013 will do little to ease this frustration – or for that matter, confusion. For instance, residents can be perplexed as to why a premises which does not have the correct planning use can nevertheless apply for – and obtain – a premises licence. The Government Guidance issued under s182 Licensing Act states (para 13.55) that ‘The planning and licensing regimes involve consideration of different (albeit related) matters. Licensing committees are not bound by decisions made by a planning committee, and vice versa.’ This is not quite the same as saying that licensing authorities can never planning matters into account, and in fact, case law on the matter could be interpreted either way depending on what one was trying to argue.

The changes permit (subject to some restrictions) a change in use to A3 (which includes cafes/restaurants) for a maximum of 2 years continual use, without the need for planning permission for change of use.

However, the cafe/restaurant would still need to apply for a premises licence under Licensing Act 2003 if they wished to provide licensable activities, such as sale of alcohol.

If residents of Westminster have concerns about such applications, they can contact us on [email protected]
to discuss how we may be able to assist, free of charge.