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  • Writer's pictureKatharine Snowden

A Guide to Planning Permission and Regulations for Marquees

Updated: Jul 6

One question we are often asked is 'do I need planning permission to put up a marquee?' Planning an outdoor event with a marquee is exciting, but there's a lot to consider. One of the most important and confusing aspects is whether or not you'll need planning permission, licenses and ensuring you comply with relevant regulations.


In this guide, we’ll take a look at the rules and regs that apply to marquees, including planning permission, building regulations and health and safety considerations. Because the last thing you want is a council official turning up on the day to poop on the party.


The hand turned finials of a Peacock and Bow pole and canvas marquee

TLDR (That means too long didn't read for those not fluent in Millennial) - Marquees are classed as temporary structures, so in most cases you don't need to worry about planning permission. Also, unless you're intending to make a profit out of your marquee event, you shouldn't need a license. But, there are a couple of exceptions, so read on to find out everything you need to know about planning an outdoor marquee wedding or event.


Planning permission for your marquee event

Marquees are considered temporary structures, so in many cases, planning permission is not required. However, there are some circumstances where permission may be needed. There's a lot of information about this online and it's not terribly consistent as the rules have changed in recent years. In the past, planning permission was required if the marquee was going to be in place for more than 28 days. However, to help the hospitality industry get back on its feet after the pandemic, this rule was scrapped, giving venues a lot more flexibility and the capacity to accommodate more people.


Do I need a license for the marquee bar or the entertainment?

If you're not a licensed venue and you're planning on having ‘licensable activities’ in your marquee, such as the sale of alcohol or live music that you're set to profit from in some way, by raising money for charity for example, then you may need to apply to the local council for a Temporary Event Notice (TEN).


If you're laying on a free bar you don't need to worry about licensing. If you're hiring a professional bar company to run a paid bar, they will have a license and will sort out the TEN. If you're planning on selling alcohol yourself, then you will need to apply for a TEN.


So, if you're hiring a marquee for a wedding, milestone birthday, corporate event or other special occasion and you're not planning on making any money out of it (honeymoon contributions don't count), you won't need planning permission.


A wedding band perform while sitting on a bespoke handcrafted bar inside a Peacock and Bow pole and canvas marquee

The property I'm using for my marquee event is listed – what does that mean for planning?

There is a slight limitation for listed buildings but it shouldn't affect most marquee hirers. That is that listed buildings are allowed to install a marquee for 120 days in a 12-month period, subject to prior approval by the local council. So, if you're a venue in a listed building and you want to put up a marquee, it would have to be on a seasonal basis.


A Peacock and Bow pole and canvas marquee is set up in the grounds of a listed building

Building regulations for your marquee event

While planning permission may not be required, if you're putting on an outdoor wedding or event you still need to ensure that the marquee meets certain building regulations. Temporary structures are covered by The Regulatory Reform (fire safety) Order 2005. They're also governed by two regulatory bodies.


  • The Institute of Structural Engineers (ISE)

  • Health and Safety Executive (HSE)


The Regulatory Reform (fire safety) Order 2005 treats temporary structures the same as bricks and mortar buildings and says that;


  • A responsible person must ensure there is safe access

  • Escape routes must be designed to avoid trip hazards or uneven surfaces

  • All fire exits should be marked using quick-release wall flaps

  • All marquees should be built with a minimum of two exits distributed evenly throughout the space


The ISE places responsibility for safety firmly on the shoulders of the hirer of the marquee. So, its hugely important that you choose a responsible and trustworthy supplier who will ensure that;


  • The marquee is safely erected to avoid structural failure

  • Crowd behaviour has been considered when designing and erecting the marquee

  • The layout and design takes into account the hazards associated with relevant suppliers

The HSE advises that most fatal or serious accidents in temporary structures are due to collapse. Their recommendations include;


  • Ensuring the marquee is suitable for its purpose

  • Using competent and adequately resourced contractors to design, supply, build, manage and take down the structure (👋hi!)

  • Providing all relevant information about the site or allowing the contractors to undertake a site assessment (👋hi again! We insist on carrying out site visits)

  • Making sure the marquee is erected on stable grounds

  • Avoiding the use of flammable materials in the construction


The natural fibre guy ropes and wooden tension bars keep a Peacock and Bow pole and canvas marquee firmly attached to the ground

Our pole and canvas marquees are designed and manufactured here in the UK by Wills Marquees. They're safe and sturdy and our skilled and experienced crew make sure the marquee is securely anchored to the ground.


Health and safety considerations

Further health and safety considerations to keep in mind when hiring a marquee for an event include


  • Ensuring that there are enough fire exits and that they are clearly marked

  • Having appropriate lighting, heating and ventilation to ensure the comfort and safety of your guests

  • Carrying out a risk assessment to identify any potential hazards and put measures in place to mitigate them


Why choose Peacock and Bow?

Here at Peacock and Bow we strictly follow all these measures to the letter sir, the letter! (Has it been too long for a Ted Hastings reference?) This way we can ensure the safety of you and all of your guests. We understand the importance of complying with regulations. That’s why we provide marquees that are built to the highest standards. As trusted marquee experts, we can guide and support you with planning and design and we'll take care of installation and dismantling. We can also provide compliant marquee accessories such as lighting, heating and flooring to ensure that your event is a success.


The Peacock and Bow crew painstakingly lay the marquee flooring ensuring the surface is level and smooth.

Conclusion

When you hire a marquee from Peacock and Bow, you can rest assured that all building regulations will be met by our skilled and experienced crew, so you and your guests will be safe and happy.


When planning an event with a marquee, there are no shortcuts when it comes to permissions, building regulations and health and safety considerations. At Peacock and Bow, we take the hassle out of compliance. Contact us today to find out how we can help you create a memorable marquee occasion.


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