An increasing number of cumulative impact policies (CIPs) could be introduced across the country as health lobbyists begin to have a growing influence in licensing decisions, a licensing law specialist has predicted.

Jonathan Smith, of Poppleston Allen, said the health lobby used to be “ad hoc” in putting representations forward against licence applications and they tended to apply to a large area rather than a particular premises but, increasingly, health data is being produced for local authorities showing the number of ambulance call-outs and A&E admissions relevant to each premises.

“If licensing authorities start to know how many people are going to hospital on a Friday and Saturday night as a result of alcohol-related injuries, and they see a particular area is disproportionate, they might think about introducing a cumulative impact policy,” he told the MA300 conference in Manchester.

He added that this would become even more of a concern if public health becomes a new licensing objective, as has been proposed.

The policy allows authorities to consider whether any of the licensing objectives would be harmed due to a concentration of licensed premises in a designated area, meaning it is more difficult for operators to get new licences or change licences by way of variation to hours or capacities.

Smith said there are currently 208 CIPs across 102 local authorities and they are leading to growing numbers of closed and unlettable buildings, fewer numbers of pub and bar openings, and lack of investment due to lack of competition.

However, he said for those licensees that already have a pub in a cumulative impact zone, “the value of those licences is considerable”.