Licensing requirements for outdoor events

Licensing hub: Advice on licensing requirements for outdoor events with Poppleston Allen  (Credit:Getty/sommart)
Licensing hub: Advice on licensing requirements for outdoor events with Poppleston Allen (Credit:Getty/sommart)

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It’s March already, and most of us will be hoping that the ‘in like a lion, out like lamb’ folklore stands true.

Many customers will be seeking outside spaces as the days turn milder and operators will be looking at novel ways they can attract customers to their venues and outdoor spaces.

We have seen lots of premises re-imagine their outdoor spaces in the past couple of years, from flea markets to crazy golf, outdoor pods to film nights; there have been some exciting and fun ideas pop up at a variety of venues.

It’s this time of year we start getting queries from operators looking to make the most of their beer gardens, and they want to understand what the rules are in respect of the licensing requirements.

The first job is to check your premises licence and plans to see what is permitted and what parts of the premises are included within the red line on your premises licence plan.

Permitted activities 

One of the most common questions is whether a premises can have live music in their beer garden. If the red line denoting where licensable activities can take place does not extend to your beer garden, or if your licence does not have provision for live music whatsoever then you might be able to rely on the Live Music Act. 

We also often get queries about having outdoor film events in beer gardens, and again the first step is to check your premises licence to see what activities are permitted and where they are permitted at your premises.

If you do not have permission to show films on your licence and/or the area in which you intend to have your screening is not shown on the plan within the red line, you would need to apply to vary your premises licence to include the activity of films and/or the screening area within the red line on the premises licence plan if you will have this as a regular activity or you are adding a structure to hold the screenings within your beer garden.

Additionally, if your film event is only a one-off event you would need to apply for a Temporary Event Notice. Don’t forget to check you have the right copyright permission in place and that you ensure that the film(s) being shown are appropriate to the age of the audience attending.

Operators looking to offer an outside bar on a permanent basis where Temporary Events Notices would not be sufficient (through the summer months for example), you will need to check your licence and plan and make the required variation application to your licence to include the external bar area within the red line on the plan if it is not included already.

Fantastic events 

I recommend speaking with police, licensing and environmental health prior to making these changes and giving consideration to the operating hours and any conditions on your premises licence as external bars can often draw representations. Careful pre-consultation and an updated operating schedule for your premises licence to reflect the addition of the external bar area is recommended.

Remember that relationships are key, especially if you are in a residential area. Beer Gardens can be an area of contention when it comes to noise from activities or from customers. Having positive relationships with your neighbours, and maintaining them, is really important.

It can help if a neighbour can come to the premises directly with an issue rather than them taking a formal compliant immediately to the Environmental Health Officer. Consider letting your neighbours know if you are going to have a specific event or activity in your beer garden and maybe invite them along.

Make sure staff are briefed on how to deal with complaints in a timely and polite fashion as consistent complaints to the licensing authority or to environmental health, for example, can lead to a noise abatement notice and put your premises licence at risk of review.

Beer gardens hold many an opportunity for fantastic events and experiences for customers. Checking your premises licence and making the required applications, as well as making sure you have undertaken your due diligence for your proposal are crucial for a successful beer garden experience.

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