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The brighter and warmer nights are very much upon us and now is the time to ensure your external beer garden area is fit for purpose. With the hospitality industry still actively trying to recover financially post covid, maximising outdoor space can be a great way to cater for more people and attract new customers.

It is helpful to remember that the consumption of alcohol is not a licensable activity. If your customers are just taking their drinks outside and sitting in the garden, as long as you either have off-sales on your premises licence or the area falls within the red-lined area of your licensing plan, you most likely won’t need to worry any further. However, always read your licence to check whether there are conditions which require you to close the outside area at a particular time, restrict customers from taking drinks into the garden area, or display keep quiet notices.

Outdoor bars

The biggest question we get every year is always ‘Can I have a bar in my outdoor area?’ In order to answer this question, we have produced the following flow chart:

Consulting your local authority

With any application to add your external area into the licensed area, we would always suggest consulting with the local authorities prior to submission. By doing so, it minimises the possibility of receiving any objection. However, if you do receive any objections to your application to incorporate the outside area, then a hearing will be required and must take place in the following 20 working days, which is why now is the time to start thinking about the summer!

It is also important to note that the rules for planning permission are slightly different for historic visitor attractions and hospitality businesses operating in listed buildings.

Avoiding noise complaints

Intensive use of an external area can also increase the potential for noise nuisance. Thought needs to be given as to how customer noise can be controlled to ensure complaints are avoided, thereby hopefully maintaining a positive relationship with your neighbours.

Music has been deregulated outside up to 11:00 pm to audiences under 500 so will be permitted in a beer garden, however, very careful thought needs to be given to how music, especially music that is amplified, is controlled. There is no ability to close windows and doors in an outside area so noise can very easily disturb neighbours unless carefully controlled. A noise management plan is a good place to start and you can download a template here: Noise management plan.

You may also find our article on Top tips on managing noise complaints useful.

Please note that this information is for general guidance only and should not substitute professional legal advice. If you have specific concerns, we recommend consulting with one of our legal experts.


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