Chris Mitchener of Licensing Solutions begins a new series of advice columns here

At Licensing Solutions we have been asked many questions during our years in this field, but for people who would like a new licence to sell alcohol perhaps the three most frequently asked are: Will I win? What do I have to do? And how long does it take ?

There are several ways to apply by yourself either by post or online, or through a local solicitor or somebody experienced in making applications, namely a licensing expert. Both of these charge for their services.

If you are considering an application you should be aware that the rules are changing and the process will become more involved and more refusals could follow. For now, though, if you make an application within reasonable hours for a business in an environment not beset by anti-social behaviour, you are likely to be granted a licence.

If you want extended hours, or are in a problem or residential area you still have a reasonable chance, but those chances improve by using the services of a licensing expert.

To make the application you will need a personal licence-holder to be responsible for alcohol sales the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) and they must complete a consent form. Whoever makes the application will need a 1:100 plan of the premises showing the layout and rear areas, CCTV cameras and monitors, fire-fighting equipment, any emergency lighting and fire exits and escape routes.

They will also need to complete an application form and send that, the DPS consent and the plan plus payment to the Licensing Authority, then advertise the application on site with blue A4 notices and in a local newspaper.

The application is advertised on site for 28 days and if nobody has objected or made 'representations' against the application it is granted as applied for. If there are representations, a hearing has to be held within the next 28 days, where an application presentation is made before a committee of local councillors, with the objectors and the applicants able to be present. The licence is then either granted or refused.

If refused it can be appealed to the local magistrates court, which can take a further three or four months, but usually the licence is granted after either the initial 28 days or after the hearing.