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Late Night Licensing

Group of 19th Century DrinkersCanterbury City Council has issued a draft revised Licensing Policy - which is now going out to public consultation. It proposes a number of changes which should help redress the balance between our residents and the night-time economy in the city centre and the surrounding areas.

Over the last 10 years, there has been a huge increase in the number of premises in the Canterbury district selling alcohol - now over 800. These are spread over a far wider geographic area than before, and many currently operate late into the night.

Since 2005, when the majority of premises closed at 10:30pm, there has been a continual creeping extension of opening hours, with businesses regularly applying to extend their opening hours by 30-60 minutes every 12-18 months. many now operate well into the early hours of the morning.

This creeping extension came to a head when Club Chemistry applied for a license to operate until 6:00am. This was refused by the Licensing Committee and, on Appeal, the Judge also refused the application.

The number of residents living in the city has been steadily growing over the years (encouraged by the council's policies), and the number of complaints received has been continually increasing. These cover noise, anti-social behaviour, and being unable to sleep at night.

More serious anti-social behaviour endured includes noise breakout from premises, shouting and screaming, vomiting and urinating (or worse) on private property, and criminal damage such as broken windows and damage to parked cars. Crime and disorder statistics confirm that this anti-social behaviour occurs in line with the hours that premises are open.

The purpose of this revised policy is to restore the balance between the increasing number of people who live in the city and the night-time economy. It will provide guidance for those who may wish to make representations, lodge reviews, etc, on as to what is reasonable and on how to seek a resolution.

The Licensing Act, 2003

The Government's Licensing Act, 2003, requires councils to carry out their functions under the Licensing Act so as to promote the four licensing objectives.

These are:

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

Each of these licensing objectives is considered to be of equal importance

Significant Changes

The significant changes to the current policy include:

  • Specified hours: all new licensing applications which include the supply of alcohol will normally be granted if within the core hours (see separate paragraph below for details)
  • Applications outside these hours: these will be considered on their merits, subject to the applicant demonstrating that they meet the four licensing objectives. Nearby residential accommodation will be taken into account when making a decision together with a number of other factors
  • The inclusion of a code of conduct: this is a comprehensive guide to license holders on what is reasonable to expect from them
  • The use of intervention meetings: these are to promote the resolution of disputes and to avoid litigation where possible
  • The inclusion of the Institute of Licensing's standard conditions: The Institute's leading experts are producing a national schedule of common conditions that, when adopted, will be extremely robust and difficult to challenge
  • An enforcement concordat: This will clearly state the councils enforcement policy

Core Hours:

For premises which supply alcohol for consumption on the premises, the core hours are:

Monday to Friday

10:00am - 11:30pm

Friday and Saturday

10:00am - midnight


Midday - 11:30pm

Sundays before a Bank Holiday

Midday - Midnight

Public consultation:

The public consultation runs for three months from 1 December 2016 to 28 February 2017.

The draft Licensing Policy can be viewed here.