A building issued with an A3 license can be used for the sale of hot food or drink on the premises. The license is given by a local U.K. authority and remains with the building and not the applicant.
Local authorities license buildings for commercial use to ensure proper town planning procedures and prevent hazardous situations or public nuisances in residential areas. The occupier of an A3-licensed building is allowed to open a restaurant on the premises, which will unavoidably include noise and odours and put pressure on parking. A3 licenses will, therefore, mainly be issued for inner-city buildings.
When considering an A3 license application, local authorities have to take a variety of laws and regulations into consideration. The Environmental Protection Act of 1990 (EPA) requires authorities to recognise possibilities of noise, litter and smell nuisances, while the Food Hygiene Regulations of 1995 require that the structure of a building be fit for the purpose of food preparation. In addition, the British government has released Planning Policy and Pollution Prevention Guidelines (PPG) that charge local authorities with preventing nuisances.
A3 licenses are exclusively issued for the consumption of food on the premises and do not include the sale of alcohol. The license also excludes activities involving entertainment, including showing movies, arranging concerts or offering gaming devices. Licensing fees vary depending on the size of the town or city and start at £1,300 as of 2010.