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Do you dream of setting up a small bar in Perth? Now’s the time. The City of Perth is actively looking to establish small bars in Perth to support the state government’s 2007 reforms to liquor licensing. This article sets out all you need to know to set up a small bar in Perth.

Step 1: Be Clear about your Goals

It is important for you to be sure at the outset of the kind of bar you want to set up. Close your eyes and see it. Do you have tables on the footpath? Are you near the water? How big is the bar? Answering these kinds of questions will smooth the process of setting up your small bar. For example, if you want your patrons to enjoy their wine while gazing at the sea, you have automatically narrowed your search for potential premises. Similarly, the size of your bar may affect the type of Liquor Licence for which you apply. Clarity is everything.

Step 2: Find your Perfect Location

You are now ready to locate the dream premises for your small bar. Take a long walk around Perth. Which areas appeal to you? Alternatively, if you would like to do some research beforehand, the City of Perth provides an excellent online summary and description of the areas comprising the City of Perth. These areas include the Central Business District, East Perth, West Perth and Northbridge.

Once you have found your premises, you will need to make contact with the property agent. At this stage of the process, it would be premature to sign any contracts for purchase or lease. Without development approval from the City of Perth or a Liquor Licence, it would be imprudent to commit yourself contractually.

However, do have a lawyer review the contract and explain it to you in detail. Do not be shy about asking questions. Their expertise can help you decide if the nuts and bolts of the contract are acceptable to you. Also, consider your personal circumstances. If you are someone who enjoys being able to walk to work, a location that requires a long commute may not be right for you.

Step 3: Apply, Apply and Keep on Applying

If you have settled on a location, it is time to prepare and submit the relevant applications.

In general, anyone wanting to set up a small bar in Perth will need to apply for:

  • Planning Approval from the City of Perth; and
  • A Liquor Licence from the WA Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor.

Planning Approval

You need to make your application for planning approval to the City of Perth. The documents that you need as part of your application will depend on your proposal. For example, if your potential premise is already an existing commercial enterprise, you are technically applying for a Change of Use of a location. Similarly, your application will differ if you intend to undertake building works. Carefully read the website for the City of Perth. If you would prefer to speak with someone, contact the City of Perth’s Development Approval Services. Check the website for contact details. Ask all of your questions. Knowing what you need to prepare and provide for your application is essential.

Various instruments regulate development and planning in the city of Perth. These include:

  1. Local Planning Schemes;
  2. The Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015; and
  3. City Planning Scheme 2

Copies of these instruments are accessible online. You will need to be familiar with them.

To assist you in determining what documents you need in your application, consult the City of Perth Planning Scheme No.2 Police Manual available on their website. If you have any question, contact the council. Be aware that all applications attract a fee.

You can employ professional assistance such as a Planning Lawyer to help guide you through this process. The choice is personal and sometimes relies solely on finance. However, a planning lawyer would enable you to save some valuable time. They would also be a great resource of information.

Liquor Licence

To set up a small bar, you will need a Liquor Licence. The licence you will probably need is a Small Bar Licence. You can serve and supply liquor for consumption only on your premises. Also, you must serve no more than 120 people at any one time.

This licence permits trading:

  • Between Monday to Saturday from 6 am until Midnight; and
  • On Sundays from 10 am to Midnight.

There are special rules for New Year’s Eve, Good Friday, Christmas Day and ANZAC Day. Check the website of the WA Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor for further information. There is an application fee. If you obtain a licence, you are also required to pay an Annual Fee. Details of prices are accessible on the website. You can download an application kit online. The kit will guide you in determining if you are eligible for a licence and how to make a complete application.

If you have any questions about the entire process of setting up a small bar in Perth, do not hesitate to contact the Economic Development Unit of the City of Perth. As mentioned above, they are actively looking to enrich the cultural fabric of Perth with small bars. Their email address is on their website.

Step 4: New Horizons

If you are successful in obtaining a Liquor Licence and getting Planning Approval, you are ready to set up your small bar in Perth. Of course, you will also have new responsibilities. As an employer, you have obligations to your employees. You must provide a safe and healthy workplace. You also need to be aware of your wages and superannuation obligations. You will also have obligations as a proprietor. If you need professional assistance, do not hesitate in obtaining it. Information at the outset will potentially save you difficulties later on. Good Luck!

Contact LegalVision’s business lawyers to assist you with your small bar. Questions? Call us on 1300 544 755.


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