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If you have always dreamed of setting up your small bar in Tasmania, this article outlines the steps you need to take to get there.  With its unique history, thriving arts and culture scene and breathtaking natural beauty, Tasmania is the perfect spot to set up a wine bar.

1) Be Clear About The Specifics

Starting up any new business, including a small bar, is a big and lengthy task. You can help yourself in this process by being articulate right at the outset about what you want in your business. Ask yourself: how does my small bar look? Is it situated in an urban, rural or waterside location? How many people will I serve? Will I serve food?  These questions are a great first step because they direct all your other ones. For example, if you would like a small bar in an urban and waterside area you have automatically narrowed the areas you need to search for premises.  Likewise, your maximum number of patrons will assist you in identifying the correct Liquor Licence for you.

2) Locate your Bar in Tasmania

Equipped with information, you can now start looking for your perfect premises. Scouting premises is time-consuming but vital. You need to think both of the business potentials of an area as well as your particular constraints. Business Tasmania provides some helpful information and useful links online about the kinds of factors you should consider when choosing a location for your business in Tasmania. Be sure to take the time to check their website. Also, think about your circumstances. For example, if you dislike long commuting, look for locations near your home.  You have to find a place that works commercially as well as personally.

Once you have located your ideal location, contact the property agent. However, it is still too early in the process to be signing a contract either for purchase or lease. Without the certainty of a Liquor Licence or local government development approval, it would be unwise to commit yourself financially. Nevertheless, contact a lawyer and have them read the proposed contract and explain it to you.  Ask all of your questions. Frank discussion at this stage is essential.

Next, contact the relevant local government authority online, in person or over the telephone. You need to find out the zoning laws applicable to that area. You will ascertain whether a small bar is possible in that location. If it is, you then need to establish what your application involves. The application process will be more complicated if you intend to undertake building works or structural changes to the property. Construction works also increase the professional expertise you may require.   

3) Apply for Licences and Permits

Once you have located your preferred location, it is time to lay the foundation stones. While applications, paperwork and regulations are sometimes difficult, this is an essential part of the process.

The exact nature of your applications will vary depending on your proposal and the intended location of your bar. Nevertheless, at a minimum you will need to apply for:

  • A Local Government Planning Permit; and
  • A Liquor Licence from Liquor and Gaming Branch, Department of Treasury and Finance.

If construction work is needed, you will also require:

  • Building Permit; and
  • Plumbing Permit (usually part of applying for a Building Permit).

Note that a building permit regulates construction and the alteration of buildings. A planning permit regulates the use and development of land against local planning instruments and state planning legislation.

Planning Permit

Every area in Tasmania falls within a local government zone. In turn, planning and developing within these areas are governed by local planning instruments and the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993 (Tas) (LUPAA). All Councils assess applications for planning permits against these laws.  For example, the Hobart municipality relies on the Hobart Interim Planning Scheme 2015, the Sullivans Cove Planning Scheme and LUPAA.

The specific local planning instruments and the local council dictate how to apply for a planning permit and what to include in your application. Check their website or speak to a planning officer.

Building Permit

As with planning permits, building permits are regulated by and assessed against, local planning regulations and LUPAA. The construction works themselves must satisfy the requirements of the Building Code of Australia. If the completed works fully comply, you will be issued a Building Certificate.

Once again, check with the relevant local council.

Liquor Licence

The Liquor Licensing Act 1990 (Tas) regulates all Liquor Licences issued in Tasmania.

You will need to apply for a General Licence. This permits:

  • The sale of liquor for consumption on and off the premises; and
  • The sale of liquor to a resident of the premises at any time.

The application costs $1208.00. There is also a grant fee of $302.00. There is also annual licence fee.

If you receive a licence, you can serve liquor between 5 am and midnight every day.  You will need to apply for an Out-of-Hours Permit to serve liquor outside of these hours.

There are numerous eligibility criteria to hold a liquor licence. These include being over 18 and a fit and proper person. Check the website for the Liquor and Gaming Branch, Department of Treasury and Finance for more detailed information. Alternatively, the website for the Australian Licence and Information Service is a helpful resource.

It is your choice whether you prepare all the necessary paperwork yourself or with the help of a Planning Lawyer. It may simply be a question of budget. However, a professional lawyer can offer invaluable guidance and assistance.  They can also ease the burden on you.

Food Glorious Food

Depending on whether you intend to serve food in your bar, and the kind of food provided, you may need to register formally as a Food Business. If you do register, you must comply at all times with the Food Standards Code. Check with the relevant local council.

Key Takeaways

If you obtain a planning permit and Liquor Licence, you are ready to begin building your small bar in Tasmania. Remember that this is an end and a beginning. An employer has many responsibilities – to their employees and relevant authorities. Always seek advice if in doubt. Contact LegalVision’s Hobart business lawyers to assist you with setting up your small bar. Questions? Call us on 1300 544 755.


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