Our new approach to licensing

Night run event at Osterley Park

We’re developing a new licensing scheme to help manage events and activities that take place in our gardens, houses and countryside. 

As a charity, the National Trust has always welcomed outdoor events and activities at our properties. Up until a few years ago, we were able to license these in a local informal way.

But more recently, we’ve seen huge growth in the number of people using our places as venues for a range of outdoor activities. While it’s brilliant that so many more people are enjoying our places, it’s also brought a lot of new challenges.
The volume of activity is starting to have a real impact on wear and tear at our places – and the wildlife that depends on them. And it’s putting a lot of extra pressure on our overstretched teams. 

That’s why in 2016, we piloted a new licensing process to help manage active outdoor experiences that take place in the gardens, houses and countryside in our care.

The pilot explored how we can provide a single, consistent way of managing the activities that happen at our places – ensuring that we continue to enable as much access and enjoyment as possible, without damaging the natural environment that people come to enjoy.

The pilot ran across 21 sites until September 2016 and required external providers to have a licence for sporting events and outdoor activities taking place on National Trust land.

From this we learned a lot. 

  • There are a huge number of providers who are, like us, concerned about damage caused to the environment by an increase use of the outdoors for organised recreational activities. We want to work with these organisations to safeguard the environment while ensuring activities can still take place. 
  • We need to have a framework in place that is robust enough to support our staff to make the right decisions to protect the landscape, and also flexible enough to be able to deal with local issues and challenges.
  • Some of our farming tenants are severely affected by large scale events crossing through their farms, which can impact their livelihoods. 
  • In some areas we need to look at different ways of working with providers to explore how to reduce the impact of activities on the environment.

We have now employed a project manager to take this learning on and, working alongside key stakeholders, create a new licensing framework and guidance. Once we have finalised the guidance, we will communicate how this affects people and companies using our places as venues for recreational outdoor activities. 

We are keen to explore how we can better work in partnership with those who choose to hold their events and activities at our special places and are keen to explore opportunities around promoting these to our visitors and supporters, so please get in touch with your local teams to find out more.

If you have any questions, you can contact us at: aops@nationaltrust.org.uk

Sites included in the pilot were:
1. Carding Mill Valley
2. Ashridge
3. Alderley Edge portfolio
4. Wimpole
5. Killerton
6. New Forest
7. Clumber Park
8. Buckland Abbey
9. Lake District
10. Gloucestershire portfolio
11. Purbeck
12. Arlington
13. Osterley
14. Peak District
15. Gibside
16. Speke
17. Penrose
18. Attingham
19. Birling Gap and Slindon
20. Formby
21. Tyntesfield/Leigh Woods

The barn set up for a wedding

Venue hire 

The places we look after can be a unique and beautiful backdrop to your event - whether you're organising a wedding or corporate event, or need a location for a film or TV programme.