A guide to organising outdoor events in Horsham District

This page offers general guidance for organisations and members of the public thinking of organising a public event in Horsham. The guidance is designed to provide you with an outline of what to consider, who to contact and what arrangements need to be in place to organise a safe public event.


An event, as described here, can be anything from having just one table and chair in the town centre for an information display, to organising music and dance, street filming, a street parade, or a concert in Horsham Park, and anything in between.

When planning any event, even if very small, do remember to start planning at least three - four months in advance, or longer for larger events, to allow time to check for space availability, for permits and licences to be applied for, sponsorship and funding to be gained, organisation of logistical details - such as checking the need for marquees and other equipment, crowd control barriers, portaloos etc - regulations to be satisfied and promotional work to be carried out and distributed.

You will need to appoint a named person who has overall responsibility for the event. It is strongly recommended that you gather a team of volunteers / colleagues when planning larger events to share the workload, delegating specific tasks to named people. Ensure that regular meetings take place and that allocated tasks are recorded including a given specific timescale.

Decide in advance what resources you have for this event and where you may be able to access further income - whether from grants, sponsorship, donations, event income from stalls, games, rides and raffles etc. Check in advance the cost of the logistical 4 requirements such as venue hire, licensing, hire of crowd barriers, extra security, first aid cover, public liability insurance etc, as these quickly eat into the budget – and don’t forget to set money aside to promote the event too!

Licensable activities

The following activities require a licence under the Licensing Act 2005.

  • Performing live music
  • Recorded Music
  • Dancing
  • Providing facilities for making music or dancing
  • Performance of a play
  • Exhibition or a film
  • Indoor sporting events
  • Retail sale and supply of alcohol
  • Boxing or wrestling events
  • Supplying hot food or drink after 11pm until 5am

If you are planning any of the activities listed above, you will need to apply for either a Temporary Event Notice or a Premises licence.

Selling alcohol

A Personal Licence will be needed by anyone who wants to authorise the sale of alcohol as part of his or her business or event.

  • Where alcohol is to be sold in connection with a Premises Licence there must be a Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) named on the licence. The DPS must be a personal licence holder.
  • If the event takes place under a TEN then a personal licence is not required, although the intention to sell alcohol must be stated on the TEN application.

Applicants for licences under the Licensing act 2005 should contact our Licensing department at an early stage for advice.

What you need to submit

To hold any public outdoor event you will need to contact us and complete and supply:

  • An Event/Activity Permit application form
  • A Risk Assessment
  • A current certificate of Public Liability Insurance for a minimum of £5,000,000. If you have booked entertainment you will need to check the providers' Public Liability Insurance policies too.
  • If holding licensable activities, your application for a Temporary Event Notice or Premises licence

You may also need to:

  • Apply for a street trading permit if you have street trading activity as part of your event
  • Apply for a charity collection licence if you wish to collect for charity as part of your event
  • Apply for a Temporary Road Closure for any event which may stop the flow of traffic on the Public Highway within the Horsham District, for example carnivals, parades, street parties

Health and safety

Risk Assessment

In order to be given permission to carry out an event or activity in Horsham you will need to provide a written risk assessment to identify possible hazards which may cause injury, and to list the precautions that have been set up to prevent this happening. In all cases where a crowd is placed in a confined space an evacuation procedure should be part of the risk assessment appraisal and plan.

You will need to be able to present this Risk Assessment before being given permission to hold any event or activity in Horsham.

If you are using a contractor for some of your event needs - to supply fairground equipment for example - it would be good practise to ask them to supply a Method Statement. An effective Method Statement reassures you that that their procedures for setting up, maintaining and dismantling equipment will be carried out safely. If the risk is low a verbal statement will suffice.

Emergency services

You are responsible for the safe management of and public safety at your event. Consultation with Horsham Police and Fire Service will need to take place for any event that will attract a crowd of 50 people or more and it is a legal requirement for you to serve the police with a copy of your application for a TEN or Premises Licence. The only document the Fire Service need to be served with is a copy of a Premises Licence application. It may also be advisable to contact the emergency services directly for advice on fire safety, detection and control arrangements necessary for your event.


Where electricity is required within the event this should be provided by generators unless prior arrangement has been made with Horsham District Council to use mains electricity. Ensure that any electrical equipment used at the event has been PAT tested (Portable Appliance Testing) within twelve months prior to the event, is installed safely (eg avoiding trip hazards), and is suitable for outdoor installation including wet weather protection. All circuits must be protected with the inclusion of an RCD (Residual Current Device) to protect against electric shock. For enquiries about use and / or supply of Council electricity during an outdoor event contact Horsham District Council’s Building Services Technician.

People with disabilities

You should ensure that emergency procedures and where possible all other event arrangements meet the needs of disabled people.

First aid

Any large public event should have a level of first aid, or paramedic cover. You may wish to consider using the medical services of such organisations as the British Red Cross and St. John Ambulance

Food hygiene

When using caterers ensure that they are registered under the Food Safety Act 1990 and ask for written evidence. Caterers trading in Horsham town centre will require a Street Trading permit which should be applied for from Horsham District Council. This is not necessary for parks and open spaces.

Your caterers must have received some training in food hygiene that should ensure that they are providing and preparing food that is safe. This applies even if food is being given away. An outline of the type of catering and facilities planned should be provided to Horsham District Council Public Health and Licensing Department in advance of the event. They will also be able to provide you with more detailed information on the safe handling of refreshments and requirements for the sale of foods.

Equipment and temporary structures

Any marquee, table, or other temporary structure erected as part of an event should be in good condition with flammable materials treated to ensure that they are flame resistant. They will need to be included in your event Risk Assessment.

Have you considered the need for crowd control barriers, for example around outdoor PA systems or stages, or the need for portable toilets if large crowds (more than 200 people) are expected? Both of these can be hired by specialist providers. No vehicle may be driven onto the Blackhorse Way Forum, Horsham Carfax and parks and open spaces without prior permission from Horsham District Council. The erection of barriers on roads is subject to Council or Highway Authority approval.

Environmental concerns

Organisers need to consider environmental issues when planning their event, particularly with regard to the concerns of local residents. For example:

  • Is the venue or highway environmentally suitable for the type of event proposed?
  • Has attention been given to the issues of noise, litter and traffic?

Organisers should at all times comply with statutory requirements, as set by Horsham District Council Public Health & Licensing. If additional litter is created as a result of the event there may be a charge levied by Horsham District Council to pay for restoring the area to a clean and tidy state. If necessary, please arrange the collection of litter in advance.


If you are organising a public event in Horsham you will be required to provide public liability insurance for a minimum of £5 million for all parties involved. For large events you might also wish to consider insuring against eventualities such as bad weather and cancellation.

If you are employing outside contractors always check their insurance cover, their health & safety policy statements and their risk assessments to ensure safe working. If your event involves trading or large audience numbers consideration should be given to special security measures, for example if large amounts of cash are likely to be accumulated at the event or to manage crowd control. Horsham police may be able to advice upon such issues.

Promotions and signage

For advertising opportunities at Horsham District Council, visit our Advertise with us page.

For guidance on promoting your event legally, read our Advertising in local spaces page.

Monitoring and evaluation

Monitoring and evaluating your event are important in order to:

  • Review what you've done
  • Measure progress and identify failures
  • Make improvements to your work
  • Show the impact on your community
  • Show volunteers and staff the value of their work
  • Develop the group's strengths
  • Keep control of your finances
  • Show your funders that their money has been spent in the right way. Many will ask you to monitor your work to provide them with proof of success

Monitoring is information-gathering that takes place throughout the life of the event and helps you to check that all is going to plan as well as looking at who is taking part, who's contributing what, how many people are attending, and what they have gained from it etc. It is advisable to incorporate monitoring procedures into the everyday activities of the event management so that it becomes a standard part of what you do. Evaluation is usually done after the event and may be an essential part of your management plan if you are seeking funding from outside organisations / sponsors.

Evaluation uses the monitoring information you have gathered to make judgements about how well you did. It will reveal how well funds have been used and the benefits to all those involved. It will also help you create more successful, well-managed projects in the future. For the best results this process should be open and honest. After the event good questions to ask are: - Did everything go as planned? - Were your objectives achieved? - Were your team, participants and audience happy and satisfied? - What could you have done differently and what lessons did you learn for next time?


Health and safety checklist

  1. Is the site suitable for your event?
  2. Have key personnel been identified i.e. Event Organiser, Safety Officer etc
  3. Have you carried out a Risk Assessment and Method Statement, where appropriate, to make sure all necessary health and safety measures are in place?
  4. Have you provided the necessary information to the emergency services, local authority, staff, contractors, entertainers etc re. maps, site plans, and an outline programme for the event?
  5. Do you know the type of crowd and how many will be attending the event?
  6. Do you know where the entrances and exits are on your site and are they controlled, suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs and appropriately signed?
  7. Do you have trained, briefed and clearly identifiable stewards?
  8. Have you met the needs of people with disabilities?
  9. Have you established a reliable communications system between key people?
  10. Have you established a reliable communications system with the audience/crowd?
  11. Has a control point been identified, call signs predetermined and public announcements prepared?
  12. Are crowd barriers necessary and if so what type?
  13. Are emergency procedures in place and been agreed with the emergency services?
  14. Have rendezvous points and emergency access routes been agreed?
  15. Do you have effective fire safety measures in place?
  16. Do you have adequate first aid provision?
  17. Can you provide a route to the nearest hospital?
  18. Do you require any other special arrangements i.e. lost children, lost property, drinking water, toilets, noise control or vehicle parking?
  19. Have you obtained adequate insurance cover for your event?

Incident checklist

You are responsible for the safety of everyone at the event. If anyone is hurt or injured because of your negligence, legal action will almost certainly follow. If an incident does occur at your event, here are some questions that you will be asked:

  1. Was there a safety plan for this event?
  2. Were the emergency services and other agencies consulted?
  3. Were risk assessments completed?
  4. Had appropriate licences been obtained?
  5. Did you keep detailed logs as event organiser?
  6. Were evacuation routes clearly signed?
  7. Were emergency procedures properly explained and practised?
  8. Was there a clear chain of command and control?
  9. Were communications between key personnel and the crowd adequate?
  10. Had stewards and event organisers received the appropriate training?