If any good can be said to have come from the past two years, it is the reconnection of premises with their communities. For those lucky enough, outdoor spaces have become major selling points for their offer. We look at how operators are using their spaces and how changes in law are helping.

Bringing the indoors - outdoors

Providing spaces and activities that draw in custom through innovative use of outside space has become a focus. Cabanas, outdoor bars, stretch tents, enclosed ‘private’ areas and opening up of previously unused outbuildings, either for additional customer space, bars or ‘street food’ offers have become draws for custom. Providing music, quizzes, space for events/ parties and outdoor TV’s for sport are also used to keep them.

There are a few important points to remember if you are going to look at some or all of the above:

  • Structural changes are likely to require planning and/ or licensing plan changes. Seek advice on timeframes and requirements prior to starting expensive works.
  • Some activities, such as sale of alcohol or provision of live and/ or recorded music ordinarily require the relevant area to be licensed. In particular, make sure any external bars are properly licenced before use.
  • Noisy activities, such as music or showing live sport could cause a disturbance. Make sure that you understand and mitigate the risks. If in doubt, seek to engage with neighbours.

Tables and chairs licences

It is anticipated that the current ‘cheap and quick’ tables and chairs procedure introduced during lockdown will be introduced permanently. The current Business and Planning Act provisions are set to end on the 30 September 2022, but there has been a commitment to make the premises permanent. Watch this space…

Changes to outdoor wedding rules

Up until the pandemic, premises could only be approved for marriage ceremonies if they comprised at least one room to be approved for civil weddings and civil partnership registration.

Now, the temporary changes introduced in 2021 to allow wedding venues to move their ceremonies outside have, since 6 April 2022, become permanently allowed- opening up the opportunity to more venues to apply to hold ceremonies, as well as receptions. It is no linger necessary to have the room inside to host weddings.

Under the changes, ceremonies can take place fully outdoors or under a partially covered structure, such as a stretch tent. It should be noted that the location for the ceremony within the outdoor area will be assessed to be ‘seemly and dignified’ and there is a process for applying that requires compliance with the regulations and local requirements. However, for those premises with outside space that meets the relevant criteria, this could prove an additional and useful source of income.


In order to hold legal outdoor weddings and civil partnership registrations, a venue must become an Approved Premises under the Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) Regulations 2005. Applications should be made through your local authority.


Existing Approved Premises will be permitted to use any outdoor areas in the venue for civil wedding and civil partnership registrations without having to re-apply for approval, subject to certain conditions.





Q. I hear that the government have released the regulations for the extensions on the Queens Jubilee weekend. Is this correct?

You are correct. The government has passed an order to extend licensing hours in pubs, clubs and bars across England and Wales enabling licensed premises to stay open (for on sales only) from 11pm to 1am on Thursday 2 June, Friday 3 and Saturday 4 June to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. A copy of the Order can be found here.

Q. Is it correct that I can still use the off-sales exemption to use additional external space- I thought it was revoked at the ‘end’ of covid?

The exemption allowing on-licensed premises without off sales to provide off sales continues until 30 September 2022. There are a few caveats where premises have lost the right to off-sales or had an application for off-sales refused in the past 3 years (if in doubt, check with your council) and you can also lose the right on a review. To take advantage, you need to notify your licensing authority of what you are intending, but you do not have to wait for a response.

Q. I have just had an updated fire risk assessment that has upped my capacity by 20 people to the number on my premises licence. Do I need to vary the condition before I can have the extra people?

This is an area fraught with difficulty insofar as the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states: ‘…any term, condition or restriction imposed by the licensing authority has no effect in so far as it relates to any matter…[that] could be imposed by or under this Order.’ Therefore if the capacity was added to the licence for fire safety reasons alone, then this condition should not apply. The difficulty is if the condition was added for any reason outside of this. It will be a case by case judgement and I would begin by speaking to your licensing officer.

Originally published in Pub & Bar magazine.

Date published

01 June 2022


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