Congratulations! By choosing to film in Westminster you have the chance to film using some of the most iconic streets in the world. Whether you are an experienced location manager or just starting outin London, we want to make your experience as good as possible.
The quickest and easiest way to find answers to your questions is to look through our FAQ list below.
A unit base is a large off-street parking area to park any essential utility vehicles you need for your location shoot, such as make up or wardrobe trucks, catering, or camera and lighting vehicles. Sometimes the trucks themselves can be referred to as unit bases. There are two sites suitable for unit bases in Westminster, at Waterloo Place and Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
A location manager is the person who organises the filming shoot, including agreeing the location and date of filming with us, attending meetings with us and our partners and ensuring that all health and safety requirements and cost requirements are met.
We use the term ‘filming’ to cover any kind of recording using a camera, or radio equipment, from filming with a handheld camera to feature films.
Yes, provided that they can be carried out safely and you have complied with all conditions set by us or our partners, and you have undertaken the correct risk assessment. You can find more information on stunts and special effects in our Guidelines.
Go to our What’s On page and check the distributor's website before travelling. The earlier you arrive, the more likely you are to get a good view. We try to make sure that all premieres are suitable for younger fans but we cannot accept any responsibility for content.
Why not have a look at our What’s On page and find out!
The Special Events Group is a discretionary (non-statutory) service offered by Westminster Council to support the safe planning and regulation of filming and events in the City of Westminster. We support around 60 premieres, 850 events and 2,500 filming applications per year.
We send out a no objection letter as part of our legal responsibility to you and to residents, businesses and visitors. The letter is not a contract between you and the Council, it simply means that we have no issues with your filming or event to go ahead as it has been described to us and provided that you comply with any conditions that we have given. The letter of no objection does not cover Council partners such as the Police or London Fire Brigade, and these partners may ask for additional conditions before they agree to your activity
Yes you can, provided that they do not endanger public safety and are appropriate to the size and location of your shoot. Any animals being used in a shoot will need to be cleared by the City Vet before the shoot date. If you want to use a horse and carriage on the public highway, you will need to meet the Department for Transport’s guidelines on horse-drawn vehicles
Contact the Special Events Group on email@example.com or 020 7641 2390. We will try to accommodate you where possible.
If you aren’t sure whether your location or venue is in Westminster, but you have a street name or postcode use the Boundary Map on our homepage which identifies all the streets within Westminster. If you're not sure where your location is but have a landmark, you could try doing a Google Maps search which will identify the borough your landmark is in
Trafalgar Square is partly owned by the Greater London Authority, which manages the ‘island’ area and fountain space of the Square. The North Terrace (the raised area by the National Gallery) and the outer areas are managed by the Council. If you want to film in Trafalgar Square, you will need to ask permission from both authorities to check for clashes. You can do this for Westminster by sending us your completed availability request. There is more information on Trafalgar Square in our Guidelines or in the Specific Locations pack
Covent Garden is partly owned by Capital and Counties, who manage the market itself and the inner-half of the Piazza's pedestrianised area. If you wish to film in Covent Garden, you will need to ask permission from both authorities to check for clashes. Should you wish to film any peformance artist in and around the Piazza you will need to liaise exclusively with Capital and Counties regardless of where they are situated. There is more information on Covent Garden in our Guidelines within the Specific Locations appendix
Chinatown is managed and marketed by Shaftesbury PLC. The London Chinatown Chinese Association runs Chinese New Year and acts as a liaison with the community and businesses. If you want to film in Chinatown, you will need to consult with these stakeholders. There is more information on Chinatown in our Guidelines or in the Specific Locations pack. The LCCA may ask you for a donation towards the maintenance and development of Chinatown.
Parliament Square is mostly owned by the Greater London Authority, apart from the area of pavement around the Square nearest to the Houses of Parliament, which is public highway and is managed by the Council. If you want to film in Parliament Square, you will need to ask permission from both authorities to check for clashes. You can do this for Westminster by sending us an availability request. There is more information on Parliament Square in our Guidelines or in the Specific Locations pack.
Please note that Prime Minister’s Question Time is on Wednesday mornings and the police operation around this time can affect filming.
Yes, provided that your filming does not negatively affect traffic flow and you consult with the businesses and residents in the area. However, Oxford Street is a very busy area, and we have to carefully consider the impact that your shoot will have. If you wish to consult with businesses on Oxford Street, Regent Street or Bond Street, you can contact the New West End Company, who may be able to advise you.
We recommend sending us a completed availability request as soon as possible so that we can advise you on your shoot proposal. Alternatively you can arrange to have a consultation with one of our experienced Special Events and Filming Managers (£75 per hour) to discuss your proposal.
The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 gave the Secretary of State authority to designate an area within 1km of Parliament for the purposes of minimising disruption to Parliament by protests. Section 137 of the Act prohibits the use of loud speakers at any time of the day or night for any reason (limited emergency exceptions) without our consent. If you want to use a loudspeaker within the Designated Area, you can apply to Westminster City Council Licensing 21 days before the date you wish to use it. For a map of the Designated Area, please see the Specific Locations pack
The Government Security Zone is a designation put upon Government offices, and you will need to consult with the Police if you want to film in the Government Security Zone. If there is an emergency, the police may suspend parking in the GSZ.
Yes, just visit our Parks section. For filming within the boundaries of the Royal Parks such as Hyde Park, Green Park, Grosvenor Square, Regent's Park, St James's Park and Victoria Tower Gardens - including any roads within their boundary, you'll need to speak to the Royal Parks Agency.
No, we do not give permission, but we will send you a letter of no objection if we support your event. If your filming is on (or will affect) the public highway or will affect residents, businesses or visitors, you will need to tell us about it.
By ‘public highway’ we mean any pavements, walkways, roads or pedestrian areas in the City of Westminster. If you have made sure that your shoot is in the City, but are not sure if your shoot is on the public highway, you can e-mail us or call to check. If your shoot is in a private location, but is likely to affect the public highway, you will need to tell us about it.
Westminster Council is responsible for the ‘public highway’, meaning any pavements, walkways, roads or pedestrian areas in the City of Westminster. The Council also owns property and assets, including Council buildings, car parks, schools, community centres, parks, libraries and leisure centres. You will need to ask our permission to use these assets.Click here for more information.
Fill in an availability request and send it to us, and we can tell you if the location is free on the dates(s) you want, or if your preferred date(s) clash with any other events, filming or roadworks.
It depends on what you want to do. Our Filming Guidelines have timescales in them to help you. We prefer you to give us as much notice as you can, either by sending us a Pre-Application Form or an Application Form
You can speak to the Communications and Strategy Unit (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7641 8088) for appropriate locations.
The availability check is a short online form that you can use to check the availability of the location or venue you want. Just register or log in to our online portal and submit your request. We will respond within three working days to tell you whether the location or venue is available and if there are any other events, filming or roadworks going in the area.
The availability check is completely optional and does not constitute any form of provisional booking or reservation of a space.
A consultation is an optional service we offer. It costs £75 per hour, which entitles you to dedicated time with one of our experienced Events and Filming Managers, including an opportunity to discuss any areas of the application process that concern you, a detailed write up of any outcomes and a chance to review your application. You can ask for a consultation by registering or logging in to our online portal and requesting a consultation when you apply
‘Feasible’ means that we believe that your shoot should be able to go ahead according to our principle that it can be run successfully without the involvement of the Police or emergency services. This is a conditional agreement based on the information you have given us and can be withdrawn at any time if you change your shoot so that it does not meet given timescales, conditions or the Special Events Policy. If we say that your shoot is feasible and/or give you a letter of no objection, these do not constitute a contract with Westminster City Council.
You can apply by visiting our website and registering or logging in to our online portal, then selecting ‘Apply to Film’. Once you have submitted your application, we will reply immediately to acknowledge receipt. We will then contact you to tell you whether your shoot can go ahead, or whether you will need to change some elements. If you have a short time before your chosen shoot date, please check your timescales are possible before applying.
When we ask if your shoot will create public interest, we want to know if it’s possible that a crowd may form, for example if a high-profile celebrity is filming. If this is the case and there is a risk that it could disrupt or block the public highway (including pavements) you will definitely need to consider a spectator management plan.
A sensitive location is an area of the City which has extra conditions attached to its use. For example any shoot held in Chinatown needs to demonstrate that it benefits the local community, whereas shoots in Covent Garden or Oxford Street/Regent Street/Bond Street need to be aware of impacting businesses in these areas. See the Filming Guidance section for more information and a downloadable ‘Sensitive Locations’ information pack
We consider whether your shoot can go ahead safely, then we use the following criteria: area character; area scale and function; residential community; physical layout; townscape and capacity of the area (in terms of pedestrian and vehicle traffic); impact on pedestrian and vehicular traffic; consideration of the frequency of filming being held at the location. simultaneous activity, other filming, events, ceremonies, road works or other activity which will impact on the intended location.
Yes, in almost all cases. If you are from a school, college or other public organisation, you may already have Public Liability Insurance (PLI). If not, you will need to arrange PLI for your shoot, usually up to £5 million.
If you have vehicles that are required for your shoot, yes. Examples would be parking for crew, generators, catering trucks, or lighting cranes. You can apply for parking suspensions when you apply for your shoot. A suspension allows you to pay for a bay that would normally be used for something else. Suspensions are suitable for normal-sized vehicles, if you have exceptional vehicles (bases, lighting, make up trailers) these can be parked on yellow lines, once you have applied for a yellow line dispensation.
You will need a Temporary Traffic Order if your shoot requires a road to be closed for more than four minutes. A TTO costs £834 per application (regardless the amount of streets) and takes up to 12 weeks to be processed. You can apply for one at the same time as you apply to hold your shoot. If you can manage with only closing the road for up to four minutes at a time, you can apply for a Temporary Traffic Hold, which can be arranged in 15 working days.
If you are suspending parking, disrupting or diverting traffic or impacting on the public highway at all, you will need a traffic management plan, which you can submit with a Filming Plan if your application is successful.
Once we receive your application, we will e-mail you to acknowledge receipt, then contact you to let you know if your application was successful. If it is successful we will send you a cost estimate of your shoot, which you have an opportunity to waive some or all of if you are not-for profit or a student organisation. We will then help you to plan your shoot. If your application is not successful you will not be charged anything, and we will explain why your application was rejected. You have an option to appeal against our decision if you wish. You are also free to re-apply.
A cost estimate is an estimate of what your shoot will cost in terms of parking, licence applications and any other Westminster services you may require. We will also charge for the time the Special Events Group and Parks team spends helping you to plan your shoot.
No, unless you apply for a licence for a specific part of your shoot. We do not license you to film, but we do send you a letter of no objection as part of our legal responsibility to you and to residents, businesses and visitors. The letter is not a contract between you and the Council, it simply means that we have no objections with your shoot going ahead as it has been described to us and provided that you comply with any conditions that we have given. The letter of no objection does not cover Council partners such as the Police or London Fire Brigade, and these partners may ask for additional conditions before they agree to your activity.
A Filming Plan is a document you create throughout your planning process and then take with you on the day of the shoot. It’s a ‘how-to’ of how your shoot will proceed safely and holds information such as licences, your letter of no objection, contact information for key people, parking, spectator and traffic management plans and risk assessments.
You can ask your Special Events Group Officer for a copy of our Risk Assessment template, but essentially you identify all potential risks (such as boxes piled by a fire exit), identify who is at risk (people trying to exit during a fire) and explain how you will mitigate or prevent them (move the boxes somewhere else).
If you have a shoot that will be setting up, maintaining and then breaking down a designated area, then you will need to write a site programme. This is a plan telling every involved in the shoot when each element is expected to happen (such as ‘trucks arrive 8.00, unload 8.10-8.20, stage build 8.20-9.20’), which helps the shoot to run smoothly.
Environmental Health is the umbrella term given to services that deal with the public realm. You may meet with the Noise Team (who deal with excessive noise), EH Consultation (who deal with large scale events), or the Health and Safety Team (who regulate commercial and industrial health and safety).
LOSPG stands for Licensing Operations Safety Planning Group, which meets with you as the location manager to discuss the impact of your shoot on Westminster and the rest of London, and to set additional conditions as required.
Yes you do. Your shoot cannot discriminate against anyone with a disability in terms of access as a member of the public. Adjustments can include ensuring that that dropped kerbs are not blocked and that trained stewards are on site to provide advice or assistance.
You need to tell your Special Events Group Officer as soon as possible if you want to remove any pieces of street furniture. This must be done by the Highways department and you may incur additional costs
Your Special Events Group Officer can advise you on this depending on the size of your shoot, but as a general rule, you should do a letter drop to all affected addresses at least a week before your shoot. The letters should include your name and contact details, the details of your Special Events Group Officer and explain what, when and where the shoot is, the times that it will be running and any steps you have taken to reduce the impact on affected parties. See Appendix 5 of the Filming Guidelines for more information
You will need to bring: your letter of no objection, your Filming Plan, any licences, permissions or suspensions and any other items as advised by your Special Events Group Officer.
If one of your vehicles gets ticketed and you believe that it is not correct, you can call the Special Events Group on 020 7641 2390
If you have paid for or reserved parking and you find vehicles illegally parked on your paid for bays then you can call Parktel on 0207 823 4567 Option 2, which is a 24/7 number.
If your shoot or Filming Plan changes, you need to tell us as soon as possible. If your shoot changes so that it is outside the scope of your original application (such as the date or location changing), so that it no longer meets minimum timescales, or no longer meets Special Events policy, you may need to re-apply.
If we or one of our partners (such as the Police) withdraw our support, then your shoot cannot go ahead in its current form. We will never withdraw support without a valid reason and we will do our utmost to alert you to any risk of this outcome and to support you to take measures to correct the problem so that we can maintain our support of your shoot.
If this is the case, please e-mail email@example.com or call us on 020 7641 2390 and we will try to accommodate you.
This completely depends on your shoot and how complex it is. When you apply we will send you a cost estimate, that takes into account all of the elements you require. We will also charge you for the time that the Special Events Group spends planning your shoot. We will offer any not for profit or student/education organisation an opportunity to apply to waive our fee if you wish to do so. An up to date list of fees is available here.
You can e-mail or call the Special Events Group to request a Waiver Form, which you complete and return. We will then agree whether to waive none, some or all of our fees
You can either pay the fee, or if you do not agree with our decision, you can appeal by e-mailing us and explaining why you do not agree. Your appeal will be dealt with by the Head of the Special Events Group.
E-mail or write to the Head of the Special Events Group using the firstname.lastname@example.org address and request your refund. Please include details of why the refund is required.
We recommend re-applying with a later filming date.
Call us as soon as possible on 020 7641 2390 so that we can cancel your arrangements for you. We may also be able to refund some of your initial costs, for example if you are unable to use parking which you paid for.
An appealis when you disagree with a decision we make (for example on policy, waivers, changes or charges). A complaint is when you are unhappy with the service we have given you (for example quality, promptness or value for money). We have different processes for each issue.
Yes, e-mail us or write to us explaining what you want to appeal and why. We will respond to tell you the outcome of your appeal. Unless the decision was made by the Special Events Group Manager, the first appeal should be directed to him/her.
If the decision was originally made by the SEG Manager or after consultation with the lead planner and the Group Manager supports the planner’s decision, you can appeal to the Operational Manager – Street Management (charging and waivers) or the Commissioner for Special Events (decisions and policy).
If you are still unsatisfied, the final appeal stage will rest with the Chief Executive.
Yes, if you wish to make a complaint about the service you receive from the Special Events Group or any Council units during your event, please address your complaint to the Head of the Special Events Group. If the Head of the Special Events Group is the subject of the complaint, or you do not feel that your complaint was resolved, please address your complaint to the Commissioner for Special Events.
If you are still unsatisfied, the final appeal stage will rest with the Chief Executive.