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Hiring a park or public open space

Hiring a park or open space

Outdoor events – do you need permission?

We define an ‘event’ as something that involves an activity which is not part of the usual daily activity associated with the space in question.

An event is usually an activity that is planned for a special or particular purpose and involves more people than you would normally find (at any one time) within the space in question.

Here is a list of example activities, which DO require permission:

  • Operating a barbecue (this would only be considered if the BBQ activity formed part of an organised event which had suitable public liability insurance and health and safety measures in place)
  • Selling goods or foodstuffs
  • Installing temporary structures, such as tents, marquees, staging, stalls and inflatables, or setting up items of equipment or furniture etc
  • Using generators
  • Cooking or preparation of food
  • Driving vehicles (other than on designated public roadways)
  • Blocking or fencing off of any particular area from the general public (whether for health & safety issues or any other reason)
  • Any activities which go against the London Borough of Southwark’s “byelaws for pleasure grounds, public walks and open spaces”
  • Organised sport (sports facilities need to be booked via the Leisure and Sport Department)

Here is a list of example activities, which would NOT usually require permission:

  • Playing of informal games
  • Picnics (pre-prepared)
  • Simple gathering of people
If you are unsure about whether you need to apply, please contact us.

Before you apply

Before completing an application to hold an event in Southwark, there are a few steps we recommend you take:

  • Ensure that you are making your application in good time. Applications must be received within the time frames shown in the table below

    Event classification

    Audience capacity

    Application required by


    Up to 499

    6 weeks prior to event date



    3 months prior to event date


    2001 - 7999

    6 months prior to event date



    9 months prior to event date

  • Read through the advice on this website about planning an event, including Locations information and Southwark's outdoor events policy with which all events in the borough are expected to comply
  • Work out what fees you are likely to have to pay for all of your licences and permits; events organised by local community groups, charities and not-for-profit organisations get an automatic 50% discount applied to the hire fee
  • If you're organising a small or medium scale community, charity or not-for-profit event, and can demonstrate that it will have a significant benefit to local people and the local area, whilst also minimising the negative impact that the event has on the event site and environment, a further discount can also be applied to your hire fee. The maximum amount of discount that can be applied is capped at 90%
  • Once you know where and when you intend to hold your event contact the events team to check that the space you wish to use is available on the date you want
  • It's important to understand that submitting an application does not mean you have booked the space; your application may need to go through a period of consultation before a decision is made
  • For larger events it can be helpful for you to submit a proposal to the events team so the ideas can be discussed before your full application is completed; an initial meeting with an event operations officer may be required
  • Once you have permission to use the venue there are still lots of things to do so make sure you understand what will be asked of you

Hiring an indoor venue

One of the first things you'll need to do when planning an event is hire a venue. This is true whether you are using an indoor or an outdoor space.

Community Southwark (CAS) lists a range of available community halls and venues in the borough for multiple uses, from office space, events, workshops to meetings and seminars.

Contact us

T: 020 7525 2000

Page last updated: 16 November 2023


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