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An update on The Leadmill

The Leadmill at night with its sign lit up in red

On 18 September, an application for a shadow premises licence for The Leadmill which has been submitted MVL Properties 2017 Ltd, the landlord, will be heard by the council’s Licensing Sub Committee.

Councillor Tom Hunt, Leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “The Leadmill is an iconic venue that has played host to brilliant gigs and club nights and has supported Sheffield’s best musical talent.

“As Leader of the Council and as a Sheffield resident, I know how loved The Leadmill is by many people and I understand the strength of feeling. The council is a champion of our cultural industries and nighttime economy but we cannot directly intervene in the legal process taking place between the Leadmill’s landlord and tenant. The council does not own the building but over the last year, we have engaged with both parties and remain willing to do so. However, we must balance this with allowing the normal licensing processes to happen as they usually would.

“As a statutory Licensing Authority, the council has a legal duty to be fair, unbiased and treat each licence application the same. When the application for a shadow licence for The Leadmill by MVL Properties 2017 Ltd is heard, it will be treated impartially and in exactly the same way as every other application that the council deals with. It is essential that the Council’s words or actions do not influence the legal process.”

What is a shadow licence?

Premises at which entertainment and certain other activities, including the sale of alcohol, are provided are required to be licensed under the Licensing Act 2003. A premises licence is valid for the life of the business supplying alcohol and/or regulated entertainment.

The term ‘shadow licence’ is often used to describe a premises licence which is granted to a second party when a premises licence is already in place for a venue. A ‘shadow licence’ does not impact the terms of the original premises licence; it would allow the second party to run the venue under that ‘shadow licence’ if the original premises licence were to be revoked or surrendered.

Does a shadow licence impact an existing premises licence?

If a ‘shadow licence’ is granted, the venue will remain open and continue to operate under its usual licence conditions. It would mean that the owners of the building would be able to operate the venue under the conditions of their ‘shadow licence’ if anything were to happen to the current premises licence.

Why would a landlord want a shadow licence?

A ‘shadow licence’ may be granted where a licence is already in place for a premises. It is common for a ‘shadow licence’ to be sought when a venue is operated by a tenant who holds the premises licence. The landlord may wish to apply for a ‘shadow licence’ for the premises in order to safeguard the venue in the event of the tenant’s licence being revoked, surrendered or lapsing. The ‘shadow licence’ ensures a premises remains licensed and can continue operating.

What happens at the Licensing Sub Committee?

The council’s Licensing Sub Committee makes decisions on licences. They carry out our statutory licensing role, including licensing for public entertainment. You can find more details about the committee here:

The sub-committee uses reports prepared by council officers, which includes details of objections and other submissions from the public and other ‘responsible authorities’, which are key stakeholders, and include the emergency services.

Three councillors, one sitting as Chair, make up the Licensing Sub-Committee. They are advised on law by a representative from, or instructed by, the council’s legal team.

At a hearing, a Licensing Officer reads out the report and answer technical questions, while Committee Secretaries take the minutes of the hearing. 

Here’s a step by step of what will happen on the day:

  • Introductions from all parties including applicants/objectors/interested arises or representatives/agents/solicitors.
  • The hearing procedure is read out by the Chair. It should be noted that the sub-committee may impose time limits on submissions for all parties.
  • If there are any conflicts of interested they are declared.
  • The report which details the shadow licence application is read out by the Licensing Officer.
  • The applicant for a premises licence is asked to outline their application and reason for it to be granted. This can be done through their legal representative, by the applicant in person, or a combination of both.
  • Councillors, legal representatives and interested parties can ask questions.
  • Objectors are invited to state their case in turn. Where there are multiple members of the public making similar objections, the sub-committee may ask them to nominate a single objector to speak for them all.
  • Councillors, legal representatives and interested parties can ask questions.
  • All parties are given the opportunity to sum up their representations to the sub-committee.
  • The Licensing Officer reads out the options open to the Committee.
  • The session is then closed (the public and parties excluded) and deliberation takes place in private by councillors, legal representatives and secretaries.
  • The parties and the public are readmitted for the decision to be outlined.
  • A Determination Notice is drafted by the council’s legal representatives. This notice outlines reasons for decision that has been made by the sub-committee.
  • All parties involved in the hearing are provided a copy of the Determination Notice with details of the appeal period.

How is the application for a shadow licence assessed?

When considering an application for a premises licence, including a ‘shadow licence’, the committee makes its decision based on the promotion of the four licensing objectives:

  • Prevention of crime and disorder;
  • Prevention of public nuisance;
  • Public safety; and
  • Protection of children from harm.

These are the only grounds on which the decision can be made. The sub-committee must consider whether the application promotes all of the licensing objectives or imperils one or more of them.

What happens if the shadow licence is approved?

If a ‘shadow licence’ is granted, it gives its holder permission to carry out activities under The Licensing Act 2003 at the address the licence covers. It does not affect the conditions of the existing licence.

Providing that the existing premises licence is not revoked, surrendered or allowed to lapse due to insolvency or death, and subject to payment of the annual licence fee, the holder of the existing premises licence can continue to operate.

Can I object to a ‘shadow licence’?

Yes, anyone can object to a licence as long as their objection includes reference to any of the four core licensing objectives. There are also time limits to make objections to such an application.

A 'shadow licence’ application was submitted for The Leadmill on 26 April 2023 by MVL Properties 2017 Ltd. The consultation period for the Shadow Premises Licence ran until midnight 24 May 2023.

205 submissions were made during consultation on the ‘shadow licence’ but some of these have not been classified as valid under the Licensing Act 2003. The information relied upon in objections must be directly linked to the four core licensing objectives. Some objections were also received after the consultation period ended so were not valid.

How can I watch Licensing Sub Committee meetings?

Members of the public can watch the meeting in person at Sheffield Town Hall or online by clicking here.