Venue and site design
What you will find on this page
Information on the duties of an event organiser in ensuring the event venue / site is designed to be safe.
Your duties as an event organiser
As an organiser, you must as far as reasonably practicable, ensure the safety of visiting crowds. The venue should also by safe and without risk to the health of those working there.
What you need to do
The event organiser should ensure the event venue / site is designed so that it is safe for people working there and so that the audience can enjoy the entertainment safely.
This task can be broken down into:
- pre-site design data collection
- assessing venue / site suitability
- drawing up venue / site design plans
Note: Control of a venue / site may be shared, eg with venue management. If this is the case, the respective responsibilities should be clearly defined and assigned. There should be effective liaison arrangements in place on health and safety matters and sharing of safety-related information, eg the location of buried services.
Pre-site design collection
Properly knowing and understanding the event and its audience is an important precursor to successful site design. This means having a detailed grasp of a range of factors including:
- the proposed size of audience and workforce
- knowledge of the audience type / profile
- knowledge of the proposed event activities and whether they are indoors or outdoors
- whether the audience will be standing, seated or a mixture of both
- site access and infrastructure required
- emergency plans
- duration and time of year that the event will take place
Assessing venue/site suitability
Once you have a clear understanding of the event concept, visit the venue or site to carry out a preliminary assessment to determine its suitability. Study any appropriate mapping and seek advice and information from the landowner, local authority and/or venue management.
The factors you need to consider include the following:
Venue capacity for the audience, staff and contractors
The capacity of a venue depends on the available space for people. Limiting factors are often:
- emergency exits
- audience circulation capacity of the venue / site
Find out more
For detailed guidance on the calculation of venue capacity, exit widths and numbers, seating and gangways see:
- The guide to safety at sports grounds
- Fire risk assessment guidance
- For BS EN 13200 spectator facilities & BS 9999:2008 Code of practice for fire safety in design, management and use of buildings which covers seating and gangways please see the BSI website
Existing structures and features
Find out if existing structures and features pose a hazard, eg restricted height access for vehicles / lifting equipment / operations. Make sure any roads, bridges etc are structurally sound and able to withstand the additional load of heavy vehicles and the number of people attending your event.
If your event is in the street, street lighting and other street furniture could affect your plans. Do railings, bus stops or other structures create additional hazards such as pinch points that present risks to the audience? If so, can they be temporarily removed?
Find out more
Ground conditions and site topography
Ground conditions and site topography will help you to decide where to position any temporary demountable structures required like stages and seating, plus the size and position of any signage.
Find out what the load-bearing capacity of the floor / ground is for any intended structure and what the ground conditions are likely to be at any structural anchoring points.
Find out how the site copes with extreme weather like flooding, as this may affect your site design and even the time of year you hold the event.
Don’t create pinch points where channelling the public could lead to dangerous overcrowding during emergencies – extra space may be required around structures.
Find out what the prevailing wind direction is, what impact a windy spot may have on your ability to erect structures safely and whether you can design the site using the topography to reduce wind loading on them.
Access for vehicles and pedestrians onto and around the site
Consider safe access for vehicles and pedestrians onto and around the site. This includes onsite parking, camping and caravanning facilities, plus holding areas for plant and equipment and trade vehicles.
Infrastructure and local amenities
Assess the site’s proximity to a hospital, fire station, public transport links, parking, major roads, local services and facilities. This information will influence the type and scale of any additional provisions and services you may need to provide.
If you need to bury temporary services or drive stakes into the ground to support structures like marquees and tents consider the hazards from underground services.
Find out more
Where necessary, check the site for the presence of animal droppings, which may expose campers and others to health and safety risks such as E.coli infection.
Find out more
Checklist – on venue suitability
Ask yourself if you have considered the following:
- Venue capacity for your audience and staff?
- Emergency exits and routes?
- Any hazards posed by existing features or structures on site?
- Ground conditions and site topography?
- How vehicles and pedestrians will safely access and move around the site?
- Proximity of local amenities?
- Any hazards posed by permanent or temporary underground services or temporary structures?
- Any relevant health risks arising from animals?
Drawing up venue/site design plans
Once the basic outline of the site has been determined, you should draft a site plan for the location of provisions and facilities, including temporary structures.
Site plans should be regularly updated as new information is obtained.
Once all requirements are finalised, draw up a final site plan.
The aim should be to produce a referenced plan, clearly indicating where the structures, facilities, fencing lines, entrances and exits etc will be.
The venue / site plan will assist you and your contractors during construction of the site. It will also be useful for services operating during the event, eg stewards.