Last edited 20 Oct 2020

Licensing buildings


[edit] Introduction

Some buildings or activities by their nature require special licenses to be permitted to operate, for example to ensure that health and safety standards are adhered to.

The following is a selective list of some of the licences that may be required. It is important to remember that the governments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may differ in their approach to each. Clarification from the local council may be required.

[edit] Licensing Act

The Licensing Act brings together a range of provisions relating to the licensing of premises and clubs. A premises licence is required from the local authority if alcohol is sold, or if ‘licensable activities’ are provided from a particular venue. This includes:

  • Selling alcohol.
  • Serving hot food and drinks between 11pm and 5am.
  • Theatrical performances.
  • Showing films.
  • Indoor sporting events.
  • Boxing or wrestling.
  • Live or recorded music and facilities for making music.
  • Dance and dancing facilities.

Some activities do not require a licence:

  • Showing educational or promotional films or films that are part of an exhibition in a museum or gallery.
  • Incidental music.

Venues that might require a licence could include:

  • Community premises.
  • Pubs.
  • Nightclubs.
  • Restaurants or establishments selling take-away food.
  • Sports venues.
  • Public entertainment venues such as cinemas and theatres.

The fees for premises applications are set on a sliding scale from £100 to £1,905 based on the rateable value of the premises.

In addition to premises licences, where alcohol is sold from licensed premises a member of staff must hold a personal licence.

[edit] Temporary event notices (TEN)

Events which involve licensable activities, accommodate less than 500 people at any one time (including staff) and last no more than seven days require a Temporary Event Notice (TEN). Licensable activities include; selling alcohol, providing regulated entertainment (such as music, dancing or indoor sporting events) or providing late night refreshment.

No more than twelve TEN's can be given for any one venue each year (or 21 days in aggregate), and there must be at least 24 hours between events. Failure to obtain a TEN can result in a £20,000 fine and / or a prison sentence of up to six months.

If a temporary event is for more than 500 people or seven days, a premises licence is required if the venue does not already have one.

[edit] The Gambling Act

The Gambling Act relates to premises used for gambling, the registration of small non-commercial lotteries and gaming machines in pubs and clubs. Premises that might be affect could include; casinos, betting shops, gaming arcades and bingo halls.

[edit] House in multiple occupation (HMO) licence

An HMO is generally rented out to at least three people from different households but who share facilities such as bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms etc. In England and Wales, landlords should check with their respective councils to confirm whether a license is needed: a license will be needed if the HMO is large. ‘Large’ is confirmed if all of the following apply:

Smaller properties rented to fewer people may also need licenses so landlords should check in all cases with their local authority. Once granted, the license will be valid for five years.

Further details from

[edit] Road occupation licence for building work (England and Wales)

This will be required when a company wants to dig up the road, or alter, add to or remove the services that are in it. Precautions that must be taken include ensuring that any works are properly fenced off and are lit during the hours of darkness. Road occupation licenses are available from local councils.

Further information from

[edit] Skip licence (skip permit) England and Wales

A skip is typically a large, deep, heavy metal container for disposing of building materials, rubbish and other unwanted items. A 'hippo bag' can also be used and is made of reinforced material which is relatively light when empty although with a lower capacity than a skip. Both will require a license from the council if they are to be put on a public road, eg outside a house. A licence is not required if the skip/hippo bag is to be situated on a private driveway or other private land.

Safety lights and markings (eg traffic cones) may be required to avoid vehicle collisions at night. If these are omitted, it can lead to a significant fine. Skip licences are often obtained by skip hire companies but in some areas, they will have to be obtained by individuals and small builders.

Precise rules can be obtained from the local council.

Further information from

[edit] Other licences

Other activities that might require licences include:

  • Sex entertainment venues (SEV’s).
  • Manufacture and storage of explosives.
  • Sunday loading and unloading.
  • Special treatments such as massage, saunas and sunbeds.
  • Hairdressers.
  • Animals, animal moving, animal boarding, dog breeding, zoos and pet shops.
  • Births, marriages and deaths.
  • Door supervisors.
  • Piercing, tattooing, electrolysis, acupuncture, and semi-permanent skin-colouring.
  • Non medicinal poisons (Poisons Act 1972 and Poisons List Order 1982).
  • Food businesses.
  • House to house collection.
  • Riding establishments.
  • Scrap metal dealers (Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964).
  • Motor salvage operators.
  • Occasional sales including 5 or more stalls, vehicles or pitches (such as car boot sales).
  • Building works affecting the public highway such as; skips and scaffolding, hoardings, gantries, dropped kerbs and the opening up the carriageway or footway.
  • Stage hypnotism.
  • Street trading.
  • Advertising boards, tables and chairs on the public highway.
  • Taxis.
  • Watersports and boatmen.

Other licenses may be required by central government, for example; goods or services offered on credit and money lending must be licensed by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT); research and testing using animals must be licensed by the Home Office, as must the handling of controlled drugs, and so on.

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[edit] External references

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