So you want to… Offer a venue for weddings, concerts or parties?

The possibilities really are endless.

Weddings, concerts, parties, car boot sales, conferences, all can be held on farmland or in disused barns, and all can yield significant revenues if done properly.

But the key to any public service is professionalism, and an interest in dealing with the public.

Your paying guests will not be too pleased if they have to walk through cow muck on their way to the marquee, or if their host is busy combining when he should be pouring drinks.

So you will have to find a new balance between farming and event organising.

Will I need planning permission?

You can hold most events on land for up to 28 days a year without requiring planning permission, but you may need permission for change of use, or mixed use, of a building.

Contact your local planning authority for the definitive answer.

Can I host weddings?

You can apply to your local county council to get a room or barn approved for civil wedding ceremonies (outdoor locations are not permitted).

Licences cost £1130 and this is non-refundable if permission is refused.

Licences must be renewed every three years at a cost of about £800.

The council will provide a registrar to carry out the wedding ceremony.

Venues hosting same-sex civil partnership ceremonies are subject to the same regulations.

Do I need a licence to hold parties, concerts, plays or other events?

All types of event are now regulated by the local district council under Temporary Event Notices.

These can be obtained for £21 with 10 working days’ notice, and both the council and police must be sent copies of the application.

Only the police can object, and then only on grounds of likely crime and disorder.

The licence allows alcohol to be sold and permits up to 499 people to attend the occasion for a maximum of 96 hours.

The premises can be used for up to 15 days a year, with a maximum of 12 applications a year.

or five applications per person.

Anyone wanting to hold larger, longer or more frequent events must apply for a Premises Licence.

This is a rather more detailed application and does allow objections to your plans.

The cost varies from £100-£635, depending on the rateable value of the premises, and must be renewed annually for £70-£350.

Anyone selling alcohol outside the Temporary Event Notice parameters must also have a personal licence, which costs £37 a year.

To obtain this they must sit an exam, which costs about £125 including a one-day course.

What about health and safety requirements?

Your local council will be able to advise you on the sorts of procedures which should be in place.

Below are a few points which should be considered.

The organisers are legally responsible for the safety of everyone at the event and must identify all possible hazards, take action to minimise those risks and keep written records of their plans.

If selling food, food hygiene regulations must be followed.

It is a good idea to draw up a contingency plan in case of emergency or bad weather.

Outdoor areas should be safe in all weather, and suitable lighting must be provided if the event will go on after dark.

What else should I know?

Start organising several months before the event.

This will give you time to carry out your risk assessments and obtain specialist advice where necessary.

It will also allow time for the local authorities, voluntary organisations, toilet providers and caterers etc to make their own arrangements.

You should provide an adequate number of toilets, including disabled facilities. Rubbish bins are also essential.

Your local police will be able to advise and possibly assist with crowd control, public order, emergency access, local traffic management and parking.

The fire brigade can advise on fire safety matters, and the St John Ambulance, British Red Cross or other voluntary First Aid society may provide first aid cover for a fee.

When there is a limit on the number of people that can be accommodated, make sure the entrance is well stewarded and that an accurate form of head counting is in place.

Do I need insurance?

You should take out public liability insurance with a minimum limit of indemnity of £5m.

You may also require employers’ liability insurance for volunteer workers.

Specialist contractors should have their own public liability insurance.

What about business rates?

Temporary use of farmland to host events is unlikely to remove agricultural exemption from rates, although very large or frequent events may result in a rating assessment.

Farm buildings used for any- thing more than a one-off event will be liable to business rates.

Check with your local Valuation Office ( ).