A premises licence is a permanent licence, granted in respect of a specific location, that authorises the licence-holder to carry on a combination of licensable activities.

These are the licensable activities a premises licence can authorise:

  • the sale by retail of alcohol
  • the supply of alcohol by a club to club members and guests;
  • the provision of regulated entertainment (including plays, films, indoor sports, music and dancing);
  • the provision of entertainment facilities; and
  • the sale of late night refreshment (hot food or drink supplied between 11pm and 5am).

Premises licences can also be used for one-off events at which more than 500 people are expected to attend. For smaller one-off events, a temporary event notice may be more appropriate.

Our Licensing Frequent Asked Questions (FAQs) document is also useful for queries you may have concerning licensing and the deregulation changes.

Sections in this guide (click title to view)

1. Application process

An applicant will always be required to give notice of their application to one or more 'responsible authorities' (statutory bodies including the Police, Fire Service, Environmental Health and Trading Standards). For applications for new licences or variations of existing licences, applicants will also be required to advertise the application, both at the premises and in a local newspaper, to alert local residents and businesses.

From when an application is made for a new licence, or to vary or review an existing licence, there is a 28-day period during which any representations in respect of the application may be made. Representations may support or oppose the application.

The licensing authority will usually be able to confirm whether an application has been granted shortly after the end of this period. However, in situations where an objection has been made, the application will usually be referred to a Sub-Committee hearing to be decided.

Any licence granted may be subject to a number of conditions, including:

  • mandatory conditions, which are set out within the legislation, and apply if the licence allows the supply of alcohol or exhibition of films, or if security staff are employed at the premises
  • conditions consistent with any special measures set out in the application form
  • any further conditions imposed by the Sub-Committee following a hearing.

Public register

We are required to maintain a public register giving details of the premises licences that we have issued. These details can be found through the Licence premises map.


Premises license application fees are dependent upon the non-domestic rateable value of the premises. This value, which is also used to calculate business rates, can be found through the VOA search engine. Premises that do not have a rateable value (such as schools, church halls, open spaces or residential properties) automatically fall into the lowest fee band.

Licensing objectives

All licensable activities in Lambeth should contribute to, or not have a negative impact on our four objectives:

  • preventing crime and disorder
  • public safety
  • preventing public nuisance
  • protecting children from harm

2. Cumulative impact zone - clapham high street

The special policy on cumulative impact, covering part of Clapham High Street, creates a ‘rebuttable presumption’ of refusal to applications for new premises licences or club premises certificates (or for variations to existing licences).

What this means is that applications for licences within the defined area will normally be refused unless the applicant can demonstrate within their operation schedule and to our satisfaction that there will be no negative cumulative impact on the licensing objectives.

However, residents, local businesses and responsible authorities still need to make representations in relation to applications they have concerns for. If a satisfactory application does not receive any representations, it will automatically be granted.

Current licence holders within the defined area are not affected, unless a licence holder seeks to vary their licence in a manner that would cause negative cumulative impact.

4. Designated premises supervisor

Every premises licence that allows the supply of alcohol is required to specify an individual as the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS). The DPS must hold a licence to sell alcohol, and will usually be the person in day-to-day control of the premises, who authorises other members of staff to sell alcohol.

If the individual specified as the DPS ceases to work at the premises, it will be necessary for the holder of the Premises Licence to apply to specify a new individual. Alcohol cannot be sold from the premises if there is no DPS listed on the licence. The nominated individual must complete a consent form. The leaving DPS must request to be removed.

Some 'community premises' are now able to apply to remove the requirement to specify a DPS on their licence. The premises must satisfy several conditions in order to remove the requirement, and an application must be granted before the change can be made. Please contact us for further details, or to discuss whether a particular premises is likely to be eligible to remove this requirement.

5. Making changes to the licence

As time goes by, it is possible that the licensed business may need to make changes to the licence to reflect its current circumstances.

Applications can be made to vary the licence for any of the following matters:

  • changing the layout of the licensed premises,
  • providing further licensable activities at the premises,
  • increasing the times during which licensable activities can be provided,
  • adding, changing or removing conditions imposed upon the licence,
  • change the name or address of the premises licence holder.

Smaller changes that will not have a negative impact upon the licensing objectives may be made using a minor variation application. If however the premises licence holder has changed name or address this may be made using our Notify us of change of name or address on a premises licence form.

Larger changes that may have a negative effect upon the licensing objectives must be made using a full variation application. This must also be used if you wish to increase the hours during which alcohol can be sold, or make substantial changes to the premises.

If the changes are exceptionally substantial, and will completely change the nature of the business, we may instead ask you to apply for a new licence.

Change of ownership

If the business is sold to a new owner, an application can be made to transfer the licence to that person. The previous owner will usually be required to provide a signed form showing that they consent to the transfer of their licence.

Where the business changes hands following the death or insolvency of the previous owner, the transfer application must be made within 28 days, to prevent the licence from lapsing. Alternatively, an interim authority notice can be submitted within the initial 28-day period, which allows a further 3 months for a buyer for the business to be found.

6. Comment on a licence application

When premises first apply for a licence (or if they apply to vary their licence, or if the licence is reviewed), you can comment on the application to support or oppose it.

What you need to know...

If you wish to make a comment on one of these applications you must do it in writing by the advertised date - usually 28 days after the application was made.

Representations (comments) will usually be expected to relate to at least one of the licensing objectives to be regarded as valid. The objectives are:

  • Preventing crime and disorder
  • Public safety
  • Preventing public nuisance
  • Protecting children from harm

There are two ways you can make a representation on an application, via our Public Access pages where you can also view current licences and applications in progress, or you can submit via the website

7. Provisional statements

Provisional Statements are effectively a provisional licence, allowing an operator to assess the likelihood of obtaining a full licence before committing to the costs of developing a site. They can be obtained in situations where the premises have not yet been constructed, extended or altered for use for licensable activities.

Provisional statements do not in their own right allow licensable activities to be carried on - however, if a statement has been granted, the licensing authority is obliged to disregard any representations received against a subsequent Premises Licence application, as long as the details of the application are substantially the same as when the statement application was made.