The Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) (Amendment) Regulations 2011, enables premises to be approved by local authorities, such as hotels and stately homes, to be used for the solemnisation of civil marriages and the formation of civil partnerships (secular premises). The amendment of the regulations now allow for religious premises to be approved for the registration of civil partnerships.
Type of premises
The term ‘premises’ is defined as a permanently immovable structure comprising at least a room or on any boat or other vessel which is permanently moored. Any premises outside this definition, such as the open air, a tent, marquee or any other temporary structure and most forms of transport, would not be eligible for approval.
Secular premises (non-religious)
These are premises which are used solely or mainly for religious purposes or which have been used solely or mainly for religious purposes and have not been subsequently used for other purposes. The premises must not be a religious premises as defined by section 6(2) of the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
A building that is certified for public worship would fall into this category, as would a chapel in a stately home or hospice. However, premises in which a religious group meets occasionally might be suitable if the other criteria are met.
Once a premises has been approved for the solemnisation of marriages and the registration of civil partnerships, your premises must be regularly available to the public for use for one or the other.
Religious premises are used solely or mainly for religious premises and have not subsequently been used solely or mainly for other purposes.
The premises will be approved for the registration of civil partnerships only and must be regularly available to the public for use for that purpose.
All premises must have the benefit of such fire precautions as may be reasonably required by ourselves, having consulted with the fire authority.
If granted, the approval will be valid for a period of 3 years.
How to apply
To apply for an approved premises, an application must be made to us by the proprietor or a trustee of the premises. To apply you must submit:
- the appropriate completed application form and declaration
- a fee of £970
- three copies of a plan of the premises which clearly identifies the rooms in which the proceedings will take place
- for religious premises, a written consent would be required (where appropriate) of the person specified or governing authority of the religious organisation as part of the application process
Once you have submitted the above, we will advertise your application in the local press and on our web page advising the public of the application made to us. All applications will be advertised in a local newspaper on a Thursday the week following receipt of your application. Your consultation period will commence from the date of advertisement for a period of 21 days.
As soon as possible after the application is received, we will contact you to arrange an appointment to inspect the premises along with the Superintendent Registrar.
We will also need details of ‘the responsible person’. This is the person that will have the responsibility for ensuring compliance with the conditions attached to the approval.
The responsible person or, in his absence, an appropriately qualified deputy appointed by him, shall be available on the premises for a minimum of one hour prior to and throughout each of the proceedings.
We will notify you as soon as reasonably practicable by way of a notice if there is a problem with your application. Your application will then be determined by our Licensing Committee where you would be invited to attend.
If there are no issues with your application and it meets all the criteria, your approval will be issued after the 21 day period.
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