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Expanding your premises – getting bigger, better

This article originally appeared in Queensland Bowler magazine, October 2018 edition

From time to time you may look to expand the licensed footprint of your premises or construct an expansion of your licensed premises.

While these projects are exciting and can bring a number of benefits to your club, it is critical that you understand some of the obstacles associated with such a proposal to ensure that you satisfy all of the requirements.

All too often we have seen clients who are halfway through an expansion program and haven't met the Council’s building approval and town planning requirements, as well as those of the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR), which can cause significant issues with these projects.

We summarise some of the key points to consider when embarking on these plans below:

Town Planning

Most premises have been properly approved by the relevant local council to conduct the use of the premises under the relevant Town Plan, however we have come across many situations in the past where the original approval was not obtained properly, and the use is actually, or potentially unlawful.

When you are seeking to expand your premises, it may result in what is called an "intensification of use". This can create a number of issues, and a common problem we have seen recently is a requirement of the Council for you to have more car parking spaces. Depending on the circumstances and layout of your premises, you may not have sufficient land to accommodate additional car parks.

In this regard, it is critical to get the appropriate town planning advice at an early stage for the development or expansion, and to understand and accept both legally and commercially, any conditions that are attached to such approval once obtained.

Council

From a construction standpoint, on most occasions it will be necessary for you to obtain a building approval from the Council for the proposed extension. This involves having plans professionally drawn, lodged with Council and approved, as well as obtaining approval of the completed works from a building inspector or certifier following construction.

OLGR

If you wish to expand your premises and thereby expand the licensed area, you will need the approval of the OLGR. For the OLGR to give its approval, generally the expanded area must be “contiguous” with the current licensed premises, meaning that it must be adjacent to, alongside or abutting the main premises.

Additionally, Guideline 35 under the Liquor Act 1992 requires that an expansion must be constructed such that it is immediately apparent to any consumer that the original premises and the extended or expanded premises are part of the same business. To satisfy this requirement, it is important to keep colour schemes, signage and the style of construction of the original and expanded premises in mind to ensure consistency.

Construction Contracts

It is vital that you negotiate a construction contract with a builder where the contract is fair to all parties concerned, and we would strongly recommend that you have these building or construction contracts vetted by an expert in the area with a view to ensure that they are appropriately drawn, and protect you.

Finally, the OLGR will generally approve the extension provided that all of the various certificates are provided, including those from Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, Council, and any other relevant authority that has an interest in the premises.

If you intend to expand your licensed premises and would like to further discuss any of the above, please get in contact with us.

This article was written by Scott Vanderwolf, Solicitor, and Curt Schatz, Managing Partner

"The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication."