Establishment of a saturation zone policy - FAQs

What is the purpose of the saturation zone policy?

Saturation zones were introduced through the Licensing Act in 2003, as a response to crime and disorder and nuisance problems arising from the cumulative effect of having a number of licensed premises operating in close proximity to each other in a small area. A saturation zone is only introduced where there is evidence to show that it is ‘appropriate and necessary’ to introduce a policy to control the growth of licensed premises.

A saturation zone policy is not a ban on alcohol licences. The purpose of the policy is to maintain the current licensing position / status quo in the Brick Lane area. The saturation zone policy will not directly affect the current alcohol or late night refreshment licences in the area but it will play a very significant role in any future applications.  It is important to note that this does not mean that further licences will not be granted, or that quotas will be introduced.


Why establish a saturation zone in Brick Lane?

Over the last decade, Brick Lane has developed into one of London’s major night time economies and it has the highest concentration of licensed premises in Tower Hamlets with more than 200 licensed premises. The continued development and increasing number of restaurants, late night takeaways, off licences and bars, has the potential to lead to public disorder and anti-social behaviour in the area. This would place a considerable strain on police resources and of other responsible authorities e.g. council, fire service and health services. It could also have a debilitating effect on the quality of life for the people that live, work and visit the area. In light of the current circumstances the council, police and the wider partnership would like to establish a saturation zone in the Brick Lane area.


What will be the effect of a Saturation Zone?

When a saturation zone policy is in place, instead of an applicant having an entitlement to a licence, unless there is a good reason not to grant it, they must first demonstrate that the grant of the application will not add to the existing problems. This is known as a ‘presumptive rebuttal’. Any application for a new premises licence or club certificate for alcohol sales, the provision of the sale of hot food after 11pm or for a variation to an existing licence within these categories, that is likely to add to the existing cumulative impact in the area, will normally be refused or become more difficult to obtain.

However, the applicant can rebut the presumption if they can demonstrate that their application for a new licence premises or a variation to an existing license would not undermine one of the licensing objectives i.e. the prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, the prevention of public nuisance and the protection of children from harm.


Will the Saturation Zone policy apply automatically to new license applications?

The policy applies to new applications only. There is still a requirement that one of the responsible authorities i.e. Metropolitan Police Service, the Fire Authority, Health services, Health and Safety, Planning Authority, Environmental Protection, Child Protection or interested parties e.g. local residents’ or businesses make relevant representations to the local licensing authority on the potential cumulative impact. Therefore representations are still required in order for an application to be refused. Once this happens, the policy comes into effect. If no representation is received then it remains that a licence must be granted that is consistent with the terms of the operating schedule.


Has this power been used in elsewhere?

Yes, other councils’ such as Camden, Hackney, Greenwich and Redbridge have implemented saturation zones; some boroughs’ have more than one zone.


What area does the proposed Brick Lane saturation zone cover?

  • View the map of the proposed Brick Lane saturation zone.


If the saturation zone policy comes into effect how long will it last?

It will remain indefinite; there is no set time but it can be revoked or reviewed.


Which partners are involved the saturation zone policy?

Responsible authorities i.e. Metropolitan Police Service, the Fire Authority, Health and Safety, Planning Authority, Environmental Protection, Trading Standards, Child Protection and Health services.


Where can I get further information?

For further information or to read the full saturation zone policy proposal for the Brick Lane area please go to: