Licensing Act

General guidance for an application under the Licensing Act 2003


The Licensing Act 2003 came into full effect on 7 November 2005, replacing the following Acts:

  • The Licensing Act 1964
  • The Gaming Act 1968
  • The Theatres Act 1968
  • The Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1982
  • The Cinemas Act 1985
  • Late Night Refreshment Legislation

Licences issued under the Gaming Act 1968 are controlled by the Gaming Commission, and Gaming licence applications should be made via them.

People wishing to sell or supply alcohol or carry out any other of the activities requiring a licence must apply to the relevant Local Authority.

How to apply for a licence

Further details on Licence application are available from the following:

Government Bodies

Licensing Authorities


Further guidance to assist with licence applications

In addition to the above, specific guidance on Places of Entertainment is available in the publication entitled "Guide to Fire Precautions in Existing Places of Entertainment and like premises".

This is a Home Office publication reference: ISBN O 11 340907 9

Additional guidance

The Event Safety Guide – A guide to health, safety and welfare at music and similar events. (HSE 1999) (“The Purple Book”) ISBN 0 7176 2453 6.

Managing Crowds Safely (HSE 2000) ISBN 0 7176 1834 X.

The Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (The Stationery Office, 1997) (“The Green Guide”) ISBN 0 11 3000095 2.

Safety Guidance for Street Arts, Carnival, Processions and Large Scale Performances published by the Independent Street Arts Network, copies of which may be obtained through www.streetartsnetwork.org.uk/cn/publications/index.php

The following information and links will assist applicants to satisfy the 'criteria' for the "Public Safety" objective of the Licensing Act:

Licensing Act 2003

Guidance notes on fire-related matters

In order for the Fire Authority to carry out a full and accurate assessment of all fire related matters the following information should be provided:

Any plans submitted should comply with Schedule 8 of the Licensing Act 2003:

The plan of the premises which, in accordance with paragraphs 2(5)(a) and (6)(b) of Schedule 8, must accompany the application shall comply with the remaining paragraphs of this Schedule 8, must accompany the application shall comply with the remaining paragraphs of this article.

Unless the relevant licensing authority has previously agreed in writing with the applicant following request by the applicant that an alternative scale plan is acceptable to it, in which case the plan shall be drawn to that alternative scale, the plan shall be drawn in standard scale.

The plan shall show:

  • the extent of the boundary of the building, if relevant, and any external and internal walls of the building and, if different, the perimeter of the premises;
  • the location of points of access to and egress from the premises;
  • if different from paragraph (3)(b), the location of escape routes from the premises;
  • in a case where the premises is used for more than one existing licensable activity, the area within the premises used for each activity;
  • in a case where an existing licensable activity relates to the supply of alcohol, the location or locations on the premises which is or are used for consumption of alcohol;
  • fixed structures (including furniture) or similar objects temporarily in a fixed location (but not furniture) which may impact on the ability of individuals on the premises to use exits or escape routes without impediment;
  • in a case where the premises includes a stage or raised area, the location and height of each stage or area relative to the floor;
  • in a case where the premises includes any steps, stairs, elevators or lifts, the location of the steps, stairs, elevators or lifts;
  • in a case where the premises includes any room or rooms containing public conveniences, the location of the room or rooms;
  • the location and type of any fire safety and any other safety equipment; and
  • the location of a kitchen, if any, on the premises. (4) The plan may include a legend through which the matters mentioned or referred to in paragraph (3) are sufficiently illustrated by the use of symbols on the plan.

Means of escape

  • The opening width of all doors leading from the area of proposed Licence to a "place of ultimate safety".
  • The method of operation of all doors including security devices such as panic bolts, turn snibs etc.
  • The proposed activity in all areas covered by the licence i.e. seating areas, dancing areas, dining areas etc. This should include specific occupancy figures.
  • The method of monitoring occupancy numbers.
  • The location of any specific areas of high fire risk should be annotated: i.e. cooking areas, location of generators (and associated fuel stocks) and gas storage areas (including type of gas to be used. 


Emergency Lighting

  • The type (i.e. maintained or non-maintained) and location of emergency lighting within the building or structure i.e. over exits and within the main areas of use.

Please Note:
The system should conform to British Standard 5266: Part 1 or Part 2 with mains and sub circuit failure. Exit signs illuminated from the inside by the system of emergency lighting are to be provided above the doors affording means of escape to open air. (The most economic method of achieving this is to provide self-contained units with battery "back-up" of at least 3 hours duration).

It is possible that emergency lighting can be provided from a portable generator sited away from the building itself provided that the main lighting is via the National Grid supply (This is subject to specific operating conditions).

Fire-fighting equipment

  • The location, size and type of all extinguishers should be indicated.

Please Note:
Portable fire extinguishers should comply with BS EN3 and BS 7863 and should be installed, tested and maintained in accordance with BS 5306: Part 3.

General information

  • In order to indicate the route to a fire exit from parts of the premises for which the directions of escape may not be apparent, notices indicating the route are to be provided in accordance with BS 5400 Part 1 "Specification for Fire Safety Signs". (This includes the "Running Person" logo). The location of such notices should be clearly marked.
  • Clear access of at least 3m width and with 3.5m headroom should be maintained within at least 60 metres of any portable/temporary structures or tents. The access should be "hard standing" which is unaffected by climatic conditions.
  • The flame retardancy of tent membranes and fabrics should be in compliance with BS 7837: 1996 and confirmation of this should be obtained from the supplier or other source.
  • The grass in the surrounding area of the tents, inside the tents and car parking areas should be cut as short as possible and the cuttings removed from the tentage area.
  • If further tents are to be erected, then the minimum distance between the lines is to be at least 10 metres for access by Fire Brigade Appliances.
  • All main guy ropes must be identified to prevent persons falling over them and causing themselves injury.
  • At least two Exits are to be provided from each large tent diagonally opposed to each other.
  • Dependent on the type of performance a minimum of three buckets of water may be required to be sited adjacent to each exit or more preferably one 13A rated water extinguisher at each exit. A CO2 extinguisher may be required to be available to cover the risks presented by a band or DJ’s electrical equipment.
  • Metal containers filled with sand or earth clearly marked for cigarette ends are to be sited throughout the tentage area.
  • Car parking facilities are to be as far away from the tentage area as possible. No cars to be allowed amongst the tents.
  • All cooking appliances are to be placed away from the sides of the tents.
  • All Liquefied Petroleum Gas used to cooking is to be kept outside the tents and only handled by a competent person.
  • All Generators used for lighting are to be kept away from the tents.
  • Members of staff are to make regular patrols of the tentage area and site.
  • All members of staff are to be made conversant with the action to be taken in the event of a fire.
  • A “SMOKING PROHIBITED” notice is to be displayed in storage tents and also where animals are kept.
  • In the tents where tables and chairs are to be used, gangways of at least 1050 mm, leading to the Exit are to be maintained.
  • A telephone is to be made available for use in the event of an emergency.
  • Generators with an output of 240 volts or more must be fitted with Residual Current Device.
  • Where secondary lighting is required, it can be in the form of 3-hour self-contained luminaries or a back-up Generator System. If both the primary and secondary power is to be provided by a Generator System the back-up Systems Generators are to be separate and remote from the Primary System.
  • Where socket outlets from electrical installations may be used for the connection of lighting, video or sound amplification equipment, display models and other portable equipment, each socket shall be protected by an integral Residual Current Device.
  • No straw bales are to be used in the Place of Entertainment.

Additional guidance

The Event Safety Guide – A guide to health, safety and welfare at music and similar events. (HSE 1999) (“The Purple Book”) ISBN 0 7176 2453 6.

Managing Crowds Safely (HSE 2000) ISBN 0 7176 1834 X.

The Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (The Stationery Office, 1997) (“The Green Guide”) ISBN 0 11 3000095 2.

Safety Guidance for Outdoor Arts is published by ISAN, the Independent Street Arts Network, at www.isanuk.org/advice-resources