Personal and premises licences

The Licensing Act 2003 is based upon promotion of the following four licensing objectives:

  • Prevention of crime and disorder
  • Prevention of public nuisance
  • Ensuring public safety
  • Protection of children from harm

We issue personal licences, premises licences, club premises certificates and permit temporary activities to allow the following licensable activities:

  • Sale or supply by retail of alcohol
  • The provision of regulated entertainment
  • The provision of late night refreshment 

This affects pubs, clubs, bars, restaurants, supermarkets, off licences, cinemas, theatres, community premises and late night takeaways to name just a few.

Following amendments to the Licensing Act 2003 by the Live Music Act 2012 and the Licensing Act 2003 (Descriptions of Entertainment) (Amendment) Order 2013 & 2014, the following activities are no longer licensable between the hours of 8am and 11pm:

a) performance of plays up to an audience of 500 people

b) exhibitions of dance* up to an audience of 500 people

c) indoor sport** up to an audience of 1000 people

*dance performance that may be classed as 'sexual entertainment' remains regulated.

**any indoor contest, exhibition, boxing, wrestling or combined fighting entertainment event remains regulated.

A licence will still be required for these activities if they were taking place outside the hours of 8am to 11pm and for audiences that exceed the maximum limits.

Live Music Act 2012

As of 1 October 2012, the Live Music Act 2012 removes the licensing requirements relating to live music

In Alcohol Licensed Premises

  • when it is unamplified and takes place between 8am and 11pm
  • when it is amplified and takes place in the presence of an audience of 200 persons or fewer (increased to an audience of 500 persons effective 6th April 2015) and is provided between 8am and 11pm.

The premises must be open for the sale of alcohol during the time that the amplified live music is provided for the exemption/s to take effect. 

Furthermore, any condition attached to the premises licence relating to live music ceases to have effect in respect of the live music unless the Licensing Authority states otherwise on the licence pursuant to a Licensing Sub-Committee Review hearing.

In Non Alcohol Licensed Premises

  • when it is unamplified and takes place between 8am and 11pm.
  • when it is amplified and takes place between 8am and 11pm in the presence of an audience of no more than 200 persons in workplaces.

The definition of a workplace is that given in Regulation 2(1) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 – basically a workplace is any premises (or part of premises) which are not domestic premises and which are made available to any person as a place of work (eg beer garden not shown on licensed plans).

Recorded Music

Effective 6th April 2015, benefits from the same exemption as live music with an audience up to 500 persons. There is no equivalent 'workplace' exemption.

Provision of facilities for making music and dancing

The Act removes the provision of facilities for making music (e.g. the provision of a piano in a bar) as a licensable activity. Venues providing an unlicensed piano (or other instruments or equipment) for use in performances will no longer be committing a potential criminal offence. 


Effective 6th April 2015, showing of pre-recorded films, incidental to other activity is not licensable.

Morris Dancing

The Live Music Act also further amends the Licensing Act to allow amplified music to accompany a performance of Morris dancing, or dancing of similar nature. 

Amplified Live Music (over 500 persons)

Amplified live music in venues, with a capacity exceeding 500, will continue to require formal authorisation from the Licensing Authority, such as a premises licence.

If you are not sure if an activity is or is not licensable please speak to Licensing Department for further advice.

Which licence?

For information about the different alcohol and entertainment licences, including details of how to apply for them, please see the following pages:

South Oxfordshire District Council Licensing Policy

Under the Licensing Act 2003, the Licensing Authority must publish a Statement of Licensing Policy (771.9 KB) PDF showing how it will promote the licensing objectives.

if you would like more advice or information about a premises licensing issue please contact the Licensing team.

Last reviewed: 15 - 01 - 2016

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