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Cambridge City Council

Guidance for applicants

The Licensing Act 2003 provides for the amalgamation on the existing alcohol, public entertainment, theatre, cinema and late night refreshment house regimes.

The Act provides a unified system of regulation for the licensing of premises that supply alcohol, provide entertainment to the public or provide hot refreshment after 11pm.

A premises licence granted by the licensing authority permits activities identified as being licensable under the Licensing Act 2003, to be carried out at those premises.

Each application will be considered on its own merits. The premises must be situated within Cambridge City Council's boundaries.

For applications for premises located in one of the city's cumulative impact zones we strongly suggest you obtain pre-application advice from the Police Licensing Officer and Environmental Health before submitting your application. This will help to limit the chance of problems encountered during the representation period.

We have published a Cumulative Impact Assessment [PDF, 3MB] in relation to the following areas of the city:

  • The city centre – marked on the map in appendix 1 of the assessment.
  • The leisure park – marked on the map in appendix 2. This area also includes both sides of Cherry Hinton Road between Hills Road and Clifton Road.
  • The area of Chesterton Road, Milton Road and Mitcham’s Corner – marked on the map in appendix 3. The area runs along Chesterton Road from Croft Holme Lane to Ferry Path; along Victoria Avenue from the River Cam to Chesterton Road; and along Milton Road, around Mitcham’s Corner and up to Springfield Terrace.
  • The entire length of Mill Road, excluding Brookfields.
  • Both sides of the section of Hills Road running from the city to Purbeck Road.

If you need pre-application advice, contact us at or the police at


  • Can be made by any person aged 18 or over if they propose to carry on a business which involves the use of premises for licensable activities.
  • A premises licence covers any place, including one in the open air.
  • A 'person' can include a business or a partnership. It does not have to be an individual, e.g. hospitals, charities, schools, pub operating companies and cinema chains.
  • A husband and wife, or partners can apply jointly as applicants.
  • Premises can have more than one licence. e.g. A premises licence authorising the sale of alcohol may be held by one individual and another can apply for a premises licence relating to the same premises or part, which would authorise regulated entertainment.

An application for a premises licence must be made on the correct form and forwarded to the licensing authority for processing. It is hoped that you will be able to access application forms on our website in due course.

The application must be accompanied by:

  • a completed application form
    the correct fee
  • a completed operating schedule (see below)
  • a plan of the premises drawn on a scale of 1:100 (in the prescribed form - see the section on plans of the premises below) to which the application relates
  • if the application involves the supply of alcohol, a form of consent from the person who is to be specified in the licence as the designated premises supervisor (a personal licence holder).

Operating Schedule

The operating schedule forms a part of the completed application form and must include the information necessary to allow the responsible authorities to assess whether the steps taken to promote the licensing objectives are satisfactory.

If the application falls within a cumulative impact area, the applicant should demonstrate why the operation of the premises involved will not add to the cumulative impact already being experienced.

Please see the matters to take into consideration when completing the operating schedule. The licensing authority will not consider an application without a fully completed operating schedule.

An operating schedule must set out:

  • the licensable activities conducted on the premises
  • the times the relevant licensable activities are proposed to take place
  • any other times the premises are open to the public
  • the period the licence is required for, if for a limited period
  • where the licensable activities include the retail sale of alcohol, the name and address of the individual to be specified as the designated premises supervisor (this person must hold a personal licence)
  • where the licensable activities include the retail sale of alcohol, whether consumption is on or off the premises, or both
  • the steps which the applicant proposes to take to promote the licensing objectives. (It is important that the operating schedule should be precise and clear about the measures it is proposed to take to promote the protection of children from harm. e.g. Plans for regulated entertainment of an adult nature or with sexual content should be disclosed. In addressing this objective, the design and layout of the premises should also be considered).

The operating schedule should also include:

  • a general description of the style and character of the business to be conducted on the premises
  • where alcohol is being sold for consumption on the premises, it would be valuable to know what seating is to be provided, as research has shown that this can be relevant to the prevention of crime and disorder
  • the type of entertainment available on the premises, whether licensable under the Act or not. The type of entertainment provided may give rise to issues concerning the steps needed to protect children from harm and it should be disclosed whether this involves striptease or lap dancing. It should be made clear whether dancing is to be by the public and/or performers and in what setting. If music is to be provided, then the type of music must also be stated. In the case of passenger vessels, it will be valuable for the area within any vessel where licensable activities take place to be described. This type of information is essential so that the responsible authorities and 'interested parties' can form a proper view as to what measures may be necessary to ensure public safety and prevent public nuisance.

Examples of specimen operating schedules and other details to be included can be viewed on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport website.

Steps to promote the Licensing Objectives (in the operating schedule)

The licensing authority and responsible authorities will expect applicants to properly address the steps that are necessary to promote the four licensing objectives in their operating schedule.

If uncertain, applicants should seek advice from the relevant authority before submitting their operating schedule. For example, on matters relating to crime prevention, the police; crime & disorder, the police and local community safety officers; public safety, the fire authority and on matters of noise, environmental health officers.

Where permission is sought for regulated entertainment, applicants may wish to consult with the Musicians Union or our Arts and Entertainment department. Liaising in this way may minimise the risk of representations being made by those authorities if they have concerns about the operating schedule submitted as part of your application.

Any steps to be taken should be realistic and within the control of the applicant, as if a licence is granted with conditions requiring the implementation of such steps, then the conditions will be enforceable in law and it will be a criminal offence to fail to comply with them.

It may be that no steps will need to be taken to promote parts of the licensing objectives if they are covered by other legislation, e.g. Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Please refer to the operating schedule for further information.

Advertising applications

The applicant is required to advertise an application for:

  • an application for a premises licence (section 17 of the Act)
  • a provisional statement (section 29 of the Act)
  • a variation of a premises licence (section 34 of the Act)
  • an application for a club premises certificate (section 71 of the Act)
  • a variation of club premises certificate (section 84 of the Act).

The applicant must display a notice for a period of no less than 28 consecutive days, starting on the day after the day on which the application was given to the relevant licensing authority, which is:

  • of a size equal or larger than A4
  • of a pale blue colour
  • printed legibly in black ink or typed in black in a font of a size equal to or larger than 16
  • prominently at or on the premises to which the application related, where it can be conveniently read from the exterior of the premises. If the premises covers an area more than 50 square metres, further notices should be displayed every 50m along the external perimeter of the premises abutting any highway.

The applicant must also publish a notice:

  • In the local newspaper on at least one occasion during the period of ten working days starting on the day after the day on which the application was given to the licensing authority. You will need to let us know which newspaper the advert goes into and date that it is due to appear.

In each case, the above notices must contain:

  • the name of the applicant or club
  • the postal address of the premises or club premises (if no postal address a description sufficient to enable location)
  • the postal address of Cambridge City Council (see front sheet) where a register of applications is kept and where a record of the application may be inspected
  • the day by which an interested party or responsible authority may make representations to the licensing authority
  • that representations may be made in writing
  • that it is an offence knowingly or recklessly to make a false statement in connection with an application and the maximum fine for which a person is liable on summary conviction for the offence.

Notices must also contain in addition:

  • Applications for a premises licence or club premises certificate a statement of the relevant licensable activities or relevant qualifying club activities, which it is proposed will be carried on or from the premises. Please state hours.
  • Variation applications - must briefly describe the proposed variation/hours.
  • Provisional statements state that representations are restricted after the issue of the provisional statement and where known, the relevant licensable activities, which it is proposed, will be carried on or from the premises.

Notice to responsible authorities

The applicant must give notice to each relevant responsible authority by giving each authority a copy of the application together with its accompanying documents, if any, on the same day as the day on which the application is given to the licensing authority.

In addition to applications, this also applies to provisional statements, variations and reviews.

Plan of the premises

Applications for premises licences (section 17 of the Act) and club premises certificates (section 71 of the Act) must be accompanied by a plan of the premises to which the application relates.

  • Unless the licensing authority has previously agreed in writing with the applicant that an alternative scale plan is acceptable to it, in which case the plan shall be drawn in that alternative scale, the plan shall be drawn in standard scale of 1:100.

The plan shall show:

  • the extent of the boundary of the building, if relevant, and any external and internal walls of the building and, if different, the perimeter of the premises
  • the location of points of access to and egress from the premises
  • the location of escape routes from the premises
  • in a case where the premises is to be used for more than one licensable activity, the area within the premises used for each activity
  • fixed structures (including furniture) or similar object temporarily in a fixed location (but not furniture) which may impact on the ability of individuals on the premises to use exits or escape routes without impediment
  • in a case where the premises include a stage or raised area, the location and height of each stage or area relative to the floor
  • in a case where the premises includes any steps, stairs, elevators or lifts, the location of the steps, stairs, elevators or lifts
  • in a case where the premises includes any room or rooms containing public conveniences, the location of the room or rooms
  • the location and type of any fire safety and any other safety equipment including, if applicable, marine safety equipment
    the location of a kitchen, if any on the premises.

The plan may include a legend through which matters mentioned or referred to above are sufficiently illustrated by the use of symbols on the plan.

These details are important to make clear which premises or parts of premises have been licensed if the application is granted and to enable the responsible authorities to better consider the adequacy of the operating schedule.

Planning considerations

Please identify the current lawful use of the premises in planning terms and any relevant conditions attached. A licensing application must only be made if the premises is or will be operating lawfully in planning terms and all conditions imposed on a permission or planning obligation have been or are being complied with. In particular, hours must not exceed those authorised by planning permission.

If you are applying for a licence which would be in variance with a planning condition or planning obligation, for example, a change in opening hours, you would need to contact the planning department with a view to obtaining planning permission to vary or remove the original condition or to seek a variation in a planning obligation.

Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS)

Each premises licence will state one DPS, who must hold a personal licence. The main purpose of the DPS is to ensure there is always one specified individual among the personal licence holders who can be readily identified for the premises where a premises licence is in force.

The DPS will normally be the person charged with the day to day running of the premises by the premises licence holder and is responsible for sales of alcohol on the licensed premises.

Although the DPS does not have to be present at every sale of alcohol, they must be easily contactable when not on the premises.

A single premises licence can have only one DPS who must hold a personal licence.

A person who wishes to cease acting as a DPS in respect of any premises licence may give notice to the Council. If the DPS is also the premises licence holder, then the premises licence must accompany the notice or a statement of the reasons for failure to provide the licence.

If the DPS is not also the premises licence holder, then they must:

  • send a copy of the notice to the premises licence holder
  • tell the premises licence holder to send the licence to the licensing authority within 14 days. The licence holder can instead send only the appropriate part of the licence, or a statement explaining why they cannot provide it

The DPS must do this no later than 48 hours after giving the licensing authority notice of their desire to be replaced.

Failure to submit a premises licence by the premises licence holder or a statement for reasons to the licensing authority within 14 days is an offence.

Where a DPS has served notice on the licensing authority and where necessary on the premises licence holder, then they are treated, from either the time the notice was received by the licensing authority or, if later, the time specified in the notice, as if they were no longer the DPS.


The licence, once granted, will last for the duration of the business. Premises licence holders will be required to pay an annual fee on the anniversary of the date of grant of the premises licence. Please see Appendix 1 for details.

Change of name or address

Holders of premises licences must, as soon as is reasonably practicable, inform the licensing authority of any change of name or address of the premises licence holder or of the designated premises supervisor. The notification must be accompanied by the licence and by the correct fee. Any person failing to do this will be committing an offence.


You may need to vary the licence for example, to change the hours, the type of entertainment or for a change of access to children.

Applications to vary the licence must be:

  • made to the licensing authority in the prescribed form, as for a new application (please see application section)
  • accompanied by the correct fee
  • advertised in the prescribed format
  • accompanied by the premises licence.

Variations will normally concern a variation of conditions attaching to a licence, or a variation in the licensable activities.

Applications to change the name or address of a named individual on the licence, or to specify a new DPS do not constitute a variation and are subject to different arrangements.

Transfer (section 42 of the Licensing Act 2003)

If you wish to transfer the premises licence into another name, you can apply for the transfer of a premises licence.

Applications to transfer the licence must be:

  • made to the licensing authority in the prescribed form
  • made by persons aged 18 or over
  • accompanied by the correct fee
  • accompanied by the premises licence or relevant part for explanation as to why the premises licence is not able to be produced
  • accompanied by a consent form signed by the existing premises licence holder or a statement as to why it is not enclosed.

The applicant must notify the DPS specified in the licence of the application to transfer the licence and if successful, details of the transfer of the premises licence. Failure to do so is an offence.

The applicant must give notice of the application to the police by sending a copy of the application together with accompanying documents (if any) on the same day that the application was given to the council.

The applicant can request that the transfer be given immediate effect and generally requires the consent of the holder of the premises licence, although no consent is required if the applicant can demonstrate that you have taken all reasonable steps to obtain that consent and that you are in a position to use the premises straight away for licensable activities authorised by the licence.

This will allow licensable activities to be carried on at the premises without interruption, pending the determination of the transfer application. If the application to transfer is rejected, then the applicant ceases to be treated as the holder and the licence reverts to the person holding it before the application was made.

Interim authority (section 47 of the Licensing Act 2003)

A premises licence will remain in force for as long as the holder continues to operate the business. In the event of the licence holder dying, becoming mentally incapacitated or insolvent, persons with an interest in the premises or connected to the licence holder can give an 'interim authority' to the licensing authority. It should be made in the prescribed form and accompanied by the correct fee.

The notice will have the effect of reinstating the licence, allowing the provision of the licensable activities to continue, pending the application to transfer the licence. An interim authority only has effect for two months.

Provisional statements (section 29 of the Licensing Act 2003)

A provisional statement can be applied for where premises are being constructed, extended or substantially changed structurally. The provisional statement is designed to provide some assurance that a premises licence covering the desired licensable activities would be granted for the premises when the building work is completed.

Applications for a provisional statement can be made by any person aged 18 or over (which can also include a firm of architects, construction company or financier). They should describe the work to be done and the planned licensable activities. Applications will be dealt with in a similar manner to an application for a premises licence and should be advertised and copied to the responsible authorities in the same manner, with the correct fee. Applicants should note that a Schedule of Works giving details of the work (including plans) being done or about to be done at the premises must be enclosed with the application.

Vehicles (section 189 of the Licensing Act 2003)

Under the Licensing Act 2003, alcohol may not be sold on a moving vehicle. The licensing authority may consider applications for the supply of alcohol from a vehicle when it is parked or stationery - e.g., parked at a special event. Any permission granted will relate to the place where the vehicle is parked and sales are to take place.


Representations can be made by a 'responsible authority' or an 'interested party'.

Representations about the licence will be considered relevant if it relates to the likely effect of the grant of the licence on the promotion of at least one of the licensing objectives. A representation that fails to do this is not relevant for the purposes of the Act and cannot therefore be considered.

Representations must not be vexatious or frivolous  - e.g., vexation may arise from disputes between rival businesses. Please see the reviews section below for information on repetition.

An interested party or responsible authority can make representations to the licensing authority at any time during a period of 28 consecutive days starting on the day on which the application to which it relates was given to the authority. However in the case of a review of a premises licence following a closure order, the period is seven days from receipt of the closure order by the authority.


The review of a premises licence or club premises certificate represents a key protection for the community where problems are occurring associated with crime and disorder, public safety, public nuisance or the protection of children from harm.

At any stage, a responsible authority or interested party (for example, a resident living in the vicinity of the premises) may apply to the licensing authority to review the licence because of a matter arising at the premises in connection with any of the licensing objectives. The application must not be repetitious - in other words it must not be identical or substantially similar to:

  • a ground for review specified in an earlier application for review
  • representations considered when the premises licence was first granted
  • representations made when the application was first made, which were excluded as being not relevant, vexatious or frivolous.

A reasonable interval must have elapsed since an earlier application for a review or the grant of the licence as the case may be. Government guidelines recommend 12 months, save in exceptional and compelling circumstances.

Upon receipt of a request for a review, which meets the criteria, a hearing will be arranged, unless all parties agree that a hearing is not necessary. There is a range of powers available to the licensing authority, including:

  • no action
  • informal warning issued in writing to the licence holder
  • modify the conditions of the premises licence
  • exclude a licensable activity
  • remove the designated premises supervisor
  • suspend the licence for a period not exceeding three months
  • revoke the licence.

A person asking for a review of a premises licence or club premises certificate must give each responsible authority a copy of the review request in the prescribed format, together with any accompanying documents, on the same day as the application is given to the licensing authority. They must also give notice of the application to the premises licence holder.

Small premises (section 177 of the Licensing Act 2003)

Section 177 of the Act exempts dancing and live music in small premises in certain circumstances. It applies to:

  • premises with a capacity limit of up to 200 people
  • providing the sale of alcohol 'on' the premises
  • providing music entertainment such as live music or dancing
  • where the main purpose of the premises is for the consumption of alcohol

For unamplified music between 8am and midnight, any conditions will be suspended. For amplified music or music outside these hours, then conditions will be suspended except where necessary for public safety or the prevention of crime and disorder, or both.

The above may not apply however, following the review of a licence.

Section 177 applies only to premises with a 'permitted capacity' of up to 200 persons. The capacity must be one imposed through the premises fire certificate, or where the fire certificate does not include a capacity or one does not exist, the fire authority must be asked to make a recommendation on the capacity of the premises.

The capacity limit applies to the area covered by the premises licence or club premises certificate and not just to part of those premises, unless separately licensed.

Mandatory Conditions

Mandatory licensing conditions introduced by the Licensing Act 2003 (Mandatory Licensing Conditions) Order 2010

The Licensing Act 2003 (Mandatory Licensing Conditions) Order 2010 introduced conditions that apply to all relevant premises in England and Wales. They apply to all licensed premises and those with a club premises certificate in England and Wales. In particular, if your premises sells or supplies alcohol, you must ensure that an age verification policy applies at the premises. The other conditions apply in respect of premises licensed for the sale or supply of alcohol on the premises, and are:

  • a ban on irresponsible promotions
  • a ban on dispensing alcohol directly into customers’ mouths
  • mandatory provision of free tap water
  • the mandatory provision of smaller measures (see below for further details)

A further condition was added in May 2014, banning the sale of alcohol below the cost of duty plus VAT.

During the government’s consultation on the alcohol strategy, held between November 2012 and February 2013, respondents were asked about the effectiveness of the mandatory licensing conditions. The consultation established that the conditions remained effective for the purpose of maintaining the licensing objectives. However, some suggestions were made to improve their effectiveness.

These amendments to the conditions are in the Licensing Act 2003 (Mandatory Licensing Conditions) (Amendment) Order 2014, which came into force on 1 October 2014. The conditions are:

  • a ban on irresponsible promotions
  • mandatory provision of free potable water
  • adoption of an age verification policy
  • the mandatory provision of smaller measures

See also:

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