Frequently asked questions

Licensing Act 2003

What are the licensable activities?

There are four main licensable activities:

  • the sale by retail of alcohol
  • the supply of alcohol by or on behalf of a club to, or to the order of, a member of the club
  • the provision of regulated entertainment
  • the provision of late night refreshment

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What is Regulated Entertainment?

  • A performance of a play
  • An exhibition of a film
  • An indoor sporting event
  • A boxing or wrestling entertainment (indoors or outdoors)
  • A performance of live music
  • Any playing of recorded music
  • A performance of a dance
  • Entertainment of similar description to that falling within the performance of live music, the playing of recorded music and the performance of dance

What is Late Night Refreshment?

These are any premises serving hot food and hot drinks between the hours of 11pm and 5am including take-aways and restaurants. This could include a burger van which is sited on a particular pitch.

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Are there any other exemptions that do not require a licence?

Yes, they are as follows:

  • Film exhibitions for advertising, information or education
  • Film as an exhibit in a museum or art gallery
  • Incidental music
  • Live TV or radio
  • Incidental to a religious service or at a place or religious worship
  • Entertainment at a fete, function or similar provided that the event is not held for private gain
  • Morris dancing or dancing of a similar nature or music which accompanies such dancing
  • Entertainment in a moving vehicle
  • Spontaneous music, singing and dancing
  • Private event where there was no intention to make a profit
  • Darts matches etc played indoors that are not played to entertain spectators
  • Stand up comedy even if some music is involved in the Act

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What are the four licensing objectives?

The licensing objectives are:

  • the prevention of crime and disorder
  • public safety
  • the prevention of public nuisance
  • the protection of children from harm

Who can make representations about a licence application or ask for a review of the licence?

  • Other persons (i.e any individual, body or business entitled to make representations).
  • Responsible authority (i.e. Police, Environmental Protection, Licensing Authority, etc)
  • A ward councillor

How long is the consultation period for a new/variation application?

The consultation period is for 28 consecutive days, starting on the day after the application was given to the licensing authority.

How do I find out the rateable value of a premises?

You view this on the business rate website or you can contact your local office on 020 7441 7000 for help with this.

What local newspaper do I advertise my application in?

The local newspaper that we know circulates within the whole of Tower Hamlets normally recommend is the East London Advertiser.

Do I need a Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS)?

Any premises where alcohol is supplied under a premises licence must have a DPS. However, "community" premises can apply for this requirement to be dissapplied.

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Which responsible authorities should I send a copy of the application and enclosures to?

To all the responsible authorities listed in Appendix 2 except the Health and Safety Executive and Maritime Coastguard Agency. If your application relates to a vessel then you must send your application to the Maritime Coastguard. For certain applications, you will be required to send your application to the Health and Safety Executive, please contact us for further information.  


How can I make a payment?

You can come into our offices to make a cash payment. Cheques are to be made payable to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. You can a make payment by telephone on 020 7364 5000. Make an online payment.

Who can endorse a photo for a personal licence?

A solicitor, notary, a person of standing in the community or any individual with a professional qualification. A "person of standing in the community" includes a bank or building society official, a police officer, a civil servant or a minister of religion.

How long is a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificate valid for?

Please note that certificates are only valid for one month

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How long does a premises licence last for?

If there are no changes or reviews, the licence can last for the life of the business, but there will be an annual fee to pay. The Licensing Act 2003 changed as of April 25, 2012 whereby fees owed after this date will cause the licence to be suspended if payment is not received within 21 days of the due date. The licence will remain suspended until such time that payment has been made.

How long does a personal licence last for?

The requirement to renew personal licences issued under the Licensing Act 2003 has been abolished with effect from 1 April 2015. This means that if you have not already applied to renew your licence and it was due for renewal after the 1 April 2015 you need not do so now as it will no longer have an expiry date.

How do I transfer a premises licence?

You must make a valid transfer application and this will take immediate effect unless there is an objection from the Police.

How do I change the Designated Premises Supervisor?

You must make a valid variation application and this will take immediate effect unless there is an objection from the Police.

What is a provisional statement?

An application for a provisional statement may be made in circumstances where premises are being or are about to be constructed for the purpose of being used for one or more licensable activities, or are being or about to be extended or otherwise altered for that purpose. The fee for an application for a provisional statement is £315.

Is busking licensable?

In most circumstances busking, in the sense the word is normally used, will not be licensable. This is because busking is usually ‘incidental’ to other activities, such as shopping, or the premises where the music is played will not have been provided for busking to take place.

You would need to ensure that you have the relevant permission for the area in which you wish to use, for example, you would need to contact TFL for permissions relating to the London Underground. It may be that the land you are proposing to use is private and therefore you would need to obtain permission from the land owner. You may need permission from the council Highways section if it is on a pavement etc. If it is in a market area, then you may need to obtain the relevant permission from the Markets Department.

There may however be instances that fall outside of this, and other laws and by-laws may apply. Each case will be dealt with on its own merits to ensure that there are no infringements on the Licensing Act 2003 or other legislation e.g. trespassing or creating a statutory noise nuisance. If the busking was licensable then you would need to apply for a licence, please contact us for further information. 

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