The Licensing Act 2003 has been amended by the insertion of sections 41A to 41C relating to minor variations. These sections came into effect on 29 July 2009. Small variations that will not impact adversely on the licensing objectives are subject to a simplified minor variations process.
Minor variation applications
The changes that can be dealt with by a minor variation application include:
- minor changes to the structure or layout of premises
- small adjustments to the licensing hours
- the removal of out-of-date irrelevant or unenforceable conditions or adding volunteered conditions
- the addition of certain licensable activities
- the removal of a licensable activity.
The minor variations process can't be used to:
- add the retail or supply of alcohol to a licence
- extend licensing hours for the sale or supply of alcohol at any time between 11pm and 7am
- increase the amount of time during which alcohol may be sold by retail or supplied on any day
- extend the period for which the licence or certificate has effect
- transfer the licence or certificate from one premises to another or vary substantially the premises to which it relates
- specify, in a premises licence, an individual as the premises supervisor
- add the sale by retail or supply of alcohol as an activity authorised by a licence or certificate or
- disapply the mandatory conditions relating to a designated premises supervisor (there is a separate process by which community premises can apply for this).
Impact on licensing objectives
Many small variations to layout will have no adverse impact on the licensing objectives.
Changes to layout should be referred to the full variation process if they could potentially have an adverse impact on the promotion of the licensing objectives.
These could be by:
- increasing the capacity for drinking on the premises
- affecting access between the public part of the premises and the rest of the premises or the street or public way, for example blocking emergency exits or routes to emergency exits
- impeding the effective operation of a noise reduction measure, such as an acoustic lobby.
To apply for a minor variation, you should:
- complete the minor variation application form (Schedule 2 Regulation 10)
- enclose the relevant fee: £89
- include a plan of the premises (if the application relates to alterations).
If you don't have Word, you may download the minor variation application form.
You will not need to tell the responsible authorities of your application. The licensing authority will determine if there is any doubt about the impact of the variation on the licensing objectives and must consult with relevant responsible authorities for specialist advice.
The application must be advertised on a white notice at the premises. There is no requirement for the applicant to advertise the application in a local newspaper.
There are no hearings under the minor variation process.
Making a decision
The licensing authority must notify the applicant of any variation granted, together with the time that the variation will take effect.
The licensing authority must give notice to the applicant that the application was refused, together with the reasons for the refusal.
The first working day after the day the licensing authority receives the application is day one and the council must then process the application and determine it within 15 working days.
The first 10 working days of the 15 working day period constitutes a consultation period in which interested parties may make representations to the licensing authority. A determination cannot be made during the 10 working day period.
If the authority refuses the application within the 15 days, the fee is non-refundable.
If the authority fails to determine the application within 15 working days, the application is deemed refused and the fee must be returned to the applicant.
Write to: Licensing Unit, Medway Council, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TR.