Licensing and Permissions for Planning a Public Event

If you are planning on running a public event, there are a number of procedures that you will need to go through, including obtaining permission or a specific licence from the relevant authority in your area.

Crowd at a public event

It is not uncommon to actually need more than one type of licence for an event and this could involve things like obtaining an alcohol licence or getting consent to erect a temporary structure like a Smart Space building that you are using to host the planned event.

Here is a look at what is involved in planning a public event that is fully compliant with all the relevant rules and regulations that are likely to apply.

Entertainment and alcohol licence

If your event is being held in a designated public space or arena, you will need to obtain an entertainment licence if it is your intention to provide any music, singing, dancing, drama, film or any kind of spectator sport.

You will also need to obtain a licence from your local council to sell alcohol. The licensing Act 2003 applies to venues that are either indoors or outside, so it does not matter whether you are using a school hall or a public park, sale and consumption of alcohol will need to be licensed.

You may well find that some venues will already hold the necessary Premises Licence that allows for these activities to take place, but you should definitely make that one of your first questions when starting to organise the planned event.

If the venue confirms that it does not hold the required licence already, you will be required to submit a Temporary Event Notice or even a full premises licence application. The relevant council department should advise and guide on this if you are not sure what you need.

You might also want to check regarding the requirements for your live entertainment, as the Live Music Act 2012 meant that some live music became deregulated.

Using TENs effectively

A Temporary Event Notice (TENs) is often the most cost-effective and straightforward way to cover an event under the Licensing Act 2003, but it does have its limitations.

Obtaining a TEN will allow you to have a maximum of 499 people on site at any one time and the licence will only be applicable for a total of 96 hours, although 4 days should cover most events. The other point to remember is that each individual premises can only have a maximum of 12 TENs in any calendar year and a total of 15 days covered by TENs in total, so you will need to check the availability based on the current tally for the year.

If you are intending on using TEN’s to licence your event, you need to submit your application no less than ten working days prior to the event and your application needs to be made to the local licensing authority and also the local police as well.

The owner of the land or venue does not have to make the application on your behalf, but you will need to obtain their written permission to confirm that you have the authority and agreement to make the application.

Premises licence

You may choose to use a venue that actually has a premises licence granted and if this is the case, the licence will be valid for the life of the business, so liaise with the venue to clarify the position before making any applications yourself.

If you are wanting to apply for a premises licence, you will need to submit your application no less than two months before the first day of your planned event and you will need to copy a number of relevant bodies in on your application, so get guidance on this if this is your intended course of action.


You should also remember that if you are going to be hosting a public event that involves the playback of music, you will need a permit from the Performing Rights Society (PRS).

The PRS collects fees that are royalty payments for composers and a PRS permit is always required to ensure you are fully compliant.

Temporary structures

If you are intending on using a temporary structure like a building or even a radio mast, you will need to make a Section 30 application for permission to do so.

These consents are normally for an unlimited duration or easily renewable, depending on the length of time that the relevant structure is intended to be in use.

There are several licences required and applications to be made depending on what type of event you are holding and where it is being held, so make sure you liaise with your local authority to get everything done in plenty of time.


1 Comment Licensing and Permissions for Planning a Public Event

  1. Maggie Allen

    It is crazy that there are so many different types of licenses that a small business would need in order to run a big public event. In my opinion, it would probably be easier if the company hired someone dedicated to planning the event and obtaining all of the required documentation. After all, getting six different licenses sounds like a pretty big job. In fact, I would probably struggle keeping all of these licenses straight; I’d probably get the TENs and premises ones mixed up.


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