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New Ruling Could Change Alcohol Licensing at Garage Premises

January 27, 2014

A case at South Hams District Council could have repercussions for licensing committees across the country. Up until now Section 176 of the Licensing Act 2003 has required applicants to prove that a premises is not a garage in order for it to sell alcohol. This has usually been achieved by means of footfall or the turnover of non-alcohol related products. 

In the case of an application for a premises licence at Shell Carew on the A38 South Brent three main points were raised. The first concerned the requirement to prove that a premises’ major use was not as a garage. This has placed an additional regulatory burden proving contrary to regulation 14 of the Provision of Services Regulations 2009. The lack of reliable evidence that the sale of alcohol created any additional risk when compared to other alcohol license applications was also raised. The final point was that the substantive hearing which necessarily followed the preliminary hearing was a less restrictive but adequate forum in which to consider any concerns raised. Taking all points into consideration, the Licensing Sub Committee decided that the provisions of Section 176 were incompatible with the Provisions of Services Regulations and granted the licence. 

RHE licensing expert Julia Bradburn who has kept a close eye on developments feels the case could now lead to similar arguments being presented in future, saying; “This line of argument on behalf of the operators of garage forecourts could represent a change in the approach by licensing sub-committees to the issue of selling alcohol at garages.”