Legal Q&A: Beer garden music and off-premises tables and chairs

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Alfresco drinks: who owns the area outside?
Alfresco drinks: who owns the area outside?

Related tags: Beer, Public house, Alcoholic beverage

The latest legal Q&A from specialist licensing solicitors Poppleston Allen covers live music in beer gardens and competitors’ tables and chairs outside of premises.

Live music in my beer garden

Q: I have recently been visited by the local authority that says I am not permitted to have live music in my beer garden because it is not permitted on my premises licence. I thought this was no longer licensable – who is correct?

A: There is not a straightforward yes or no answer to this question and often depends on whether your beer garden is shown on the plans that attach to your premises licence (licensed plans).

If you are permitted to sell alcohol (and not just have your customers consume it) in the beer garden then live music up to 11pm and for an audience of no more than 500 people will not be a licensable activity and any live music-related conditions on your premises licence will not apply. If your beer garden is not licensed for the sale of alcohol then you can benefit from a separate provision of the Live Music Act, which relates to workplaces. This is because although the beer garden is not licensed, it is a workplace and workplaces under the act can also have live music until 11pm for audiences of up to 500 people.

The only difference here is that any live-music related conditions that appear on your premises licence will still apply as the workplace exemption does not suspend conditions on any related premises licence. It sometimes happens that there is a dispute as to whether the beer garden forms part of the premises or not, and if so you may wish to take legal advice, but in any event one of the two exemptions above will apply unless there has been a review of the premises licence and the exemption removed.

Lastly, remember there are slightly different and more restrictive rules for recorded music (DJs), where the workplace exemption does not apply.

Competitors have tables and chairs outside of premises

Q: I operate a city centre bar and have noticed that many of my competitors have tables and chairs outside of their premises. I would like to follow suit and wonder if there were any rules regarding this?

A: This depends very much on whether the external area that you would like to place the tables and chairs on is within your demise (privately owned) or is highways (owned by the local authority).

If the area is privately owned then you would need permission from whoever owns the area, for example, if you are a tenant it would be your landlord. You may also require planning permission from the local authority. However, if this area is owned by the local authority then you will probably need permission from them before you can place tables and chairs on their property.

Each authority has different rules and procedures for how you obtain permission to place tables and chairs on the highway. Some only require planning permission, some only require a separate licence for the tables and chairs (and not planning permission) and some require both planning permission and a separate licence for the tables and chairs.

The terminology for the licence also differs and it could be known as a pavement licence, tables and

chairs licence or street trading licence for example. Whether you need planning permission, a licence, or both and what you need to complete or provide to obtain them is different for each local authority. I have not come across an authority that does not require you to have any form of permission for the placing of tables and chairs on the highway and this is unlikely as then they would have no control over the use of their land. You should therefore either speak to your local authority to determine what is required or seek legal advice.

For any legal enquiries please visit Poppleston Allen's website​.

Related topics: Licensing law

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