I would welcome the chance to add clarity to an issue which has featured on the Letters Page in recent weeks and that is the granting of licensing applications that fall within a Cumulative Impact Area.
There can often be some confusion about the difference between the “need” for premises and the “cumulative impact”.
Need concerns the commercial demand and is not a matter the licensing authority is permitted to consider by legislation in determining licensing applications or variations.
If the committee refused an application because members agreed that an area did not need the premises that a licence was being applied for, then it could be legally challenged.
A cumulative impact policy rebuts the presumption in law that licence applications or variations of premises licences or club premises certificates will be granted.
Instead, where the granting of a licence or variation is likely to add to the existing cumulative impact, they will normally be refused or modified, following relevant representations, unless the applicant can demonstrate that there will be no negative cumulative impact on one or more of the licensing objectives, such as crime and disorder.
Guidance issued by the Home Office states that applications relating to premises within a cumulative impact area must be considered properly and those that are unlikely to add to the cumulative impact on the licensing objectives are to be granted. Having a cumulative impact policy in place does not negate the need to make relevant representations on each application.
Where an application does not receive any relevant representations the licence must be granted as applied for.
A cumulative impact policy must not restrict consideration of applications by imposing quotas based on either the number or the capacity of premises.
As well as specified bodies defined as responsible authorities, such as the police, any other person can make representations in relation to an application for a licence to sell alcohol from a premise, or to vary the conditions of an existing licence.
This applies regardless of their geographical proximity to the premises. Further information and guidance on making representations can be found on the council’s website.
Where relevant representations have been received and cannot be mediated, the application is referred to the Licensing Sub-Committee for consideration.
The committee must consider all relevant representations both for and against the licence and determine whether to grant, refuse or amend the conditions of the application or variation.
Where the Licensing Sub-Committee is mindful to depart from the policy they must have justifiable reasons to do so and set out those reasons within the decision notice.
There is a right of appeal against the decision of the Licensing Sub-Committee for any party that made relevant representations against the licence, to the magistrates’ court.
I hope this serves to clarify the situation and explains the rationale behind the determination of Licensing Sub-Committee decisions.