Alcohol Licensing Overview

Coronavirus licensing update

The government has announced it will introduce temporary planning measures to allow all pubs and restaurants to provide hot food takeaways in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

As part of the measures the government is introducing to assist the hospitality industry during the coronavirus outbreak, it has been confirmed that planning regulations will be temporarily relaxed to allow pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways of hot food and drinks to deliver to people staying at home.

Ordinarily under planning regulations a change of use class would be required to convert pubs and restaurants to hot food takeaways. Under the temporary measures the government will allow a temporary change of use without the need to make an application. This permitted development right will be time-limited and will last for twelve months.

The government will introduce the temporary measures as soon as it is possible to pass secondary legislation in Parliament.

Licence holders are reminded that under the Licensing Act 2003 the sale of hot food and hot drink between the hours of 23:00hrs and 05:00hrs are classified as late night refreshment and needs to be authorised by the existing premises licence.

If your premises licence doesn’t authorise late night refreshment it can be added by applying for a minor variation.

Importantly, the temporary measures only relate to takeaways of hot food and non-alcoholic drinks. The sale of alcohol for consumption off the premises is a licensable activity under the Licensing Act 2003 and would need to be authorised by the existing premises licence.

If your premises licence doesn’t authorise the sale of alcohol for consumption off the premises you could apply to add it to the licence using the full variation process.

All food businesses should ensure that they are registered with the environmental health team at the Council.

Further information is available here.

Should you have any queries, please email licensing@north-herts.gov.uk


You need to apply for a premises licence if you intend to conduct any licensable activities or provide any regulated entertainment from a specific premises or location.

Licensable activities are:

  • the sale or supply of alcohol
  • the provision of regulated entertainment
  • the provision of late night hot food and drink
  • the supply of alcohol in clubs

Types of regulated entertainment are:

  • Performance of a play
  • Exhibition of films
  • Indoor sporting events
  • Boxing or wrestling entertainment
  • Performance of live music
  • Playing of recorded music
  • Performances of dance

Licence for music entertainment

Whether a licence is needed for music entertainment will depend on the circumstances.

A licence is not required to stage a performance of live music, or the playing of recorded music if:

  • it takes place between 8AM and 11PM
  • it takes place at an alcohol on-licensed premises
  •  the audience is no more than 500 people

You also don’t need a licence:

  • to put on unamplified live music at any place between the same hours
  • to put on amplified live music at a workplace between the same hours and provided the audience is no more than 500 people.

In other circumstances, a licence may be required. One licence application can cover all types of regulated entertainment and the sale or supply of alcohol.

There are exemptions from the need for a licence for music entertainment, in defined circumstances as set out in the Guidance, including for:

  • places of public worship, village halls, church halls and other similar buildings
  • schools
  • hospitals
  • local authority premises
  • incidental music - music that is incidental to other activities that aren’t classed as regulated entertainment

You can find at the bottom of this page a document which contains more information on when a licence is required for regulated entertainment, and also a full copy of the revised guidance under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003.

If you are still unsure if you require a licence then please contact licensing@north-herts.gov.uk with as much information about your event or premises as possible.