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House of Lords Select Committee - Licensing Act 2003

Updated: Jul 31, 2018

Further to our item of 25th January, about Peter Rogers’ involvement in giving evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee, concerning the Licensing Act 2003, and our piece on the Agent of Change Principle, the House of Lords is to reports its findings on 4th April 2017. It is thought that this will provide serious cause for thought for the future direction and relationship between licensing and planning.


The House of Lords Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003 conducted a post-legislative scrutiny of the Act, after ten years. Our Managing Director, Peter Rogers was called as one of the expert witnesses examined by the Committee on the 29th November 2016, and you can see the transcript of the full evidence session here


In summary, Peter talked about the balance between a ‘problem with noise’ and a need for ‘societal vibrancy’. “Viewing the Licensing Act in isolation is not helpful to those who are building communities and the premises to serve them, so something is lost for the vibrancy of the community. The positive economic and social benefits that premises bring have to be balanced against the impact and burden on residents. There is a sensible process by which it can be considered early in planning and passed through for more detailed consideration at the licensing stage. The two do not have to be mutually exclusive, and the bridge that links them is the national noise policy document that can be implemented and referenced within the Licensing Act”. This position would enable communities to embrace the Agent of Change principle, and create places that are diverse and work for the communities within them.


Peter points out some difficulties with the current regime “I have seen scenarios where a licence is gained first and then used in a planning application to suggest that planning might be granted. That is wrong. To enable that planning be considered first and a licence then develops from that use makes complete sense. It deals with the concerns of communities that if we are to have a thriving late-night economy, it has been properly considered; that mitigation has identified that it can be conditioned at planning; that it can be further conditioned with detail in the licensing phase; and that when the next planning application comes along all those things can be considered”.


“When we see society generally moving into built-up areas and we can no longer say, “You are a noise maker, so you go here; you are a sensitive receptor, so you go there”, people have to deal with it through good design. The opportunity for that goes across the board to achieve a sustainable outcome that can work for everybody. With good design as the link between the two, we can achieve closer proximity and the balance can be achieved”.


Finally, the Government Response to the HOL Committee Report should be received by 5th June 2017. More information is provided here, see paras 58 et seq, and especially 68-70.  However, Para 69 gives all the possible reasons that the Government might give for delaying a response. There are four departments involved in the LA2003 Report: HO, DCMS, DCLG and Health. The Lord Chairman of the Committee can question any delays and ask for an explanation.


The full report and evidence from all sessions will be published here. Please do get in touch if you'd like to discuss this with us.


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