Licensing and permissions
When running an event, there are several things you'll need to have permission or a licence to do. Sometimes this means you'll need more than one type of licence or permission before the event can go ahead. Here are some examples and simple guidelines for the main types of licence.
Using parks and open spaces for events
Just as you would need permission from the owner or manager of a building before holding an event there, the same applies to parks, town squares and other outdoor spaces.
For more information see hiring a park or public open space.
Entertainment and alcohol
If your event includes entertainment (music, singing, dancing, drama, films or spectator sports) and / or the sale of alcohol, it will need to be licensed by the council under the Licensing Act 2003. This applies to indoor venues (eg a school hall or theatre) and outdoor locations (eg public parks, town squares and streets).
In some situations, the venue you are using will already hold a Premises Licence to allow these activities to take place. You will need to check this with the venue manager. If the venue does not hold a suitable licence you will either need to submit a Temporary Event Notice or a full premises licence application.
As of 1 October 2012 the Live Music Act 2012 came into effect. This means that some live music is now deregulated. Please visit the Licensing policy pages for details.
Temporary Event Notices (TENs)
A TEN is the simplest and cheapest way to cover an event under the Licensing Act 2003, but it does have some limitations.
- Maximum of 499 people on site (at any one time)
- Maximum of 96 hours (four days) duration
- One premises can have up to 12 TENs in any calendar year, covering a maximum of 15 days in total
- A personal licence holder can submit up to 50 TENs in any calendar year, but a non-licence holder can only submit up to five in a year
TENs must be submitted to the licensing unit and the police a minimum of ten clear working days before the event day. The police have 48 hours to consider the application and if there are concerns they will issue a counter-notice and those concerns will need to be discussed and considered further. A TEN does not have to be made by the land or venue owner but you must have the permission of the owner for the event to take place.
See the licensing pages for the Temporary Event Notice form and guidelines.
This is a licence granted in relation to specific premises, including an outdoor space. It authorises the range of licensable activities that may be provided at that premises and sets out the conditions under which those activities may operate. This licence is valid for the life of the business or organisation that holds the licence. The licence can be reviewed at any time if a relevant issue arises.
Important things to remember about a premises licence:
- applications must be made at least two months before the day or first date of the event
- the application must be copied by the applicant to a number of other named "responsible bodies"
- the applicant must advertise the application in accordance with the licensing process
- the responsible bodies and local residents may make representations concerning the application
- all operational information should be in place when the application is submitted
- if alcohol sales / provision is to be included under the licence then a Designated Premises Supervisor who holds a personal licence must be nominated
You can find more information on the Licensing Act 2003 and download application forms and detailed guidance notes for TENs, premises and personal licences at on the licensing pages. The web site also hosts Southwark's licensing register, a searchable database of all current and granted premises licence applications, and all granted TENs.
Music performances and recordings
Public events with performance or playback of music will also require a permit from the Performing Rights Society (PRS) who collect fees towards royalty payments for composers. Events using council land will be obliged to arrange their PRS permits in advance.
See more information about PRS permits on the PRS for Music website.
If you will be setting up any temporary structures such as inflatables, a marquee, a stage or flagpoles, you will need a temporary structures licence, formally known as Section 30 Consent. This is issued and monitored by the building control team.
See more information about temporary structures licences here.
Many events have traders present selling everything from food and toys, to art and face painting. If you are planning to have five or more traders as part of your event, you will need to apply for a Private operator licence.
Closing a road
If you wish to close a road for an event, to allow sporting activity, carnivals, street parties or other activity to take place, you will need to speak to the council as early in the planning process as possible.
For small neighbourhood street parties there is a fairly simple and cheap application process, but in most other situations closing roads can take quite a time and can cost a lot.
- See more information about holding a street party in your neighbourhood
- Find out about the general process for closing roads for events
Advertising using banners or posters
The use of banners, posters and other outdoor advertising to promote events is controlled by the council, in accordance with the Town and Country Planning regulations 2007. The restrictions are described on the promoting your event page.
T: 020 7585 2000
Page last updated: 03 May 2023