A new busking and street entertainment policy
We have introduced a new policy to regulate busking and street entertainment. The rules came into force from 5 April 2021.
The policy is designed to support street entertainment while protecting residents and businesses from excessive noise and overcrowding that can be caused by busking. It follows more than two years’ of engagement with residents, businesses and performers in our key busking locations.
What does the policy include?
The policy sets out a code of conduct for all buskers and street entertainers in Westminster, provides guidance on self-regulation and will see the centre of Westminster become a regulated area for performers. This means that from 5 April 2021 performers need to apply for a licence in order to perform in these areas and perform only at a designated pitch.
All street performers in Westminster should follow the City-wide code of conduct. This aims to make sure performers are considerate of both the local community and other performers.
From April 2021, you must apply for a licence to perform in the centre of Westminster. To perform in these areas, you need to apply for a licence, busk in a marked pitch, and abide by the conditions of the licence.
There are 26 marked pitches across the licensed area of Westminster. Each pitch has its own conditions, which you must abide by. Some pitches allow amplification and others do not.
The licensed area includes the areas in and around:
- Oxford Street
- Regent Street
- New Bond Street
- Leicester Square
- Covent Garden
- The Strand
- Charing Cross
- Trafalgar Square
- Parliament Square
Street Performers Associations
In Covent Garden there is an established Street Performers Association (SPA) that performers are encouraged to join before performing there.
In Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square there is a newly created SPA that performers are encouraged to join before performing there.
Join the busking forum
The Busking and Street Entertainment Forum meet with council officers twice a year to collect feedback and concerns, answer questions, and share ideas to promote busking and street entertainment across our city. The Forum also serves as a bridge between the busking community and our resident and business forums and will play a central role in reviewing this policy.
To join, email [email protected]
Read the full policy
Busking and street entertainment policy review
We are currently reviewing our busking and street entertainment policy and are looking to engage with all those that are currently licensed under the scheme or have applied for a licence previously, or those that consulted on the initial policy implementation in 2020.
It's important for us to obtain feedback from you on how the policy is working for those bound by it and to understand if the policy has been effective in addressing the issues raised by those who consulted on the adoption of the policy.
As a result, we have established a questionnaire covering key themes such as noise nuisance, pitch locations and suitability. This exercise is not statutory and is an additional step to our normal procedure, however we believe it is essential in ensuring we are working with all of our communities to identify the most appropriate options for the scheme moving forward.
We will then look to enter a formal consultation with all stakeholders in the new year on our recommendations. Please see the link below which will take you to the questionnaire. This will be available to complete for the next 6 weeks, closing on 30 December 2022.
The Busker Forum is a meeting taking place at least twice a year for buskers and street entertainers to give their views on the existing policy, answer any questions you have and discuss how the council can work with you to make busking in Westminster even better.
The first Busker Forum took place over Zoom on Tuesday 13 July, chaired by Cllr Louise Hyams. The Forum is intended to provide space for an open dialogue, giving you direct access to the council and providing transparency in how decisions are made.
Read the terms of reference for the Busker Forum:
Every day, musicians, magicians, comedians, artists and dancers come from all over the world to perform on our streets. At the same time, we receive around 1,800 complaints each year about excessive noise or overcrowding caused by busking.
For over two years we engaged with residents, businesses and street entertainers to develop a new policy that would support street entertainment while protecting residents and businesses.
We consulted on our busking and street entertainment proposals between 14 January and 24 February 2020. Following this, we made some updates to the policy as a result of the feedback. We consulted again on our updated proposals between 24 September and 1 November 2020.
Throughout these consultations, we have tried to balance the feedback and concerns of those who live, work and perform in Westminster.
Report a problem
Please raise any complaints you may have regarding incidents via the Report It form on council’s website.