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An overview of the Licensing Act 2003

Since the Licensing Act 2003 came into force, applications for new licenses or variations of existing licenses are now heard by local councils. Most of the licensed premises in Blackheath village are in the jurisdiction of Lewisham Council and a few fall under Greenwich Council.

We’ve tried below to summarise the most important implications of the Act for residents.

The starting point is that it is now possible, in theory, for all licensed premises to be open for 24 hours.

The applicant (licensee) applies to the appropriate council, giving details of its required opening times and licensable activities. This usually includes the sale of alcohol both on and off the premises and may also include entertainment.

The applicant must display details of its application in a visible position at the premises.

At this point, any objections to the granting of the application must be made to the council. Only “interested parties” (including residents, people using or working in the area and residents’ groups, such as BVRG) may object. Objections can only be made based on the four objectives stated in the Act. These are:

If no objections are received, the council legally MUST grant the licence. If objections are received, there will be a public meeting, to which applicant and objectors are invited and at which they may speak.

Following this, the council will either:

At this point, either the unsuccessful applicant or the objectors can within 21 days appeal against the decision to the magistrates’ court.

At any time after the licence has been granted, residents can ask for a review of the licence.