Cutty Sark Gardens
One busking pitch will be outside the Greenwich Foot Tunnel entrance

Buskers will need to get a licence to perform in Greenwich and Woolwich town centres under plans set for approval by senior councillors on Wednesday.

Greenwich Council says it needs to regulate street performers in the two areas after regular complaints about noise and obstruction.

Musicians will be restricted to two locations in each town centre – either side of the Cutty Sark in Greenwich; and Greens End and outside Iceland in Powis Street, Woolwich – and will be restricted to performing between 10am and 5pm on Thursdays to Sundays. In Greenwich, this means that one favoured spot – outside the park gates – will be off-limits to musicians.

It will cost £35 to apply for a licence, and then £10 per week for the right to play two one-hour slots per day. Buskers will also need written permission to use amplifiers as well as drums and wind instruments.

“The council receives a number of complaints each year typically relating to noise and obstruction,” a document to go before the council’s cabinet, its main decision-making body, says. “At busy times, officers and members of the public witness risks to public safety caused by busking and street entertainment where pedestrians spill out onto roads to get past buskers, street entertainers and their audience.”

Greens End
One of Woolwich’s busking pitches will be on Greens End

While the council already has some powers to deal with problem buskers, it plans to adopt a law used in other London boroughs to enable licensing “to ensure that there is a fair selection process for the type of buskers being licensed. It will provide a fair distribution of opportunity and the quality of buskers being licensed.”

“In Camden the introduction of the policy has meant that buskers know not to come unless they have a licence and there have been fewer incidents as a result,” the report says.

The council says that it could generate revenue both from the licences and from selling sponsorship of the busking pitches.

A consultation will take place before any licensing system is put in place. The draft consultation also mentions introducing licensing in Passey Place, Eltham, with just two slots per day, but this is not mentioned in the report to councillors.

Westminster City Council recently introduced licensing for buskers, while performers also need a licence to perform in Bexley. Transport for London has offered busking licences since 2003.

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