Commercial Operators Licence

Commercial Operators Licences are granted to businesses who successfully apply to operate on Reserve and other Council Managed Land. Businesses with these licences usually operate from transportable premises such as a coffee cart, gazebo or a trailer-based bike or surfboard-hire shop.

The area occupied by the business is restricted to the immediate area of the activity and must not unduly encroach onto the general public's use of the beach or reserve or obstruct beach and reserve users.

Download a list of current commercial operators here(PDF, 399KB)

How to apply

Applications for the 2023/24 year have now closed. TCDC is undergoing a review of the application process and applications for the 2024/2025 year will open in March 2025 with new licences to be issued by June 2025.

Many sites in the last round entered into 9 year agreements. For sites still available next round, open the list here(PDF, 64KB).  

Operators wishing to prepare for the next round should be aware that it is a weighted tender application process. The criteria are evaluated on the following basis:

Attribute Special Conditions Weightings
Enhancement of visitor experience and relevance to site

The COUNCIL is looking for a range of activities that will add variety, entertainment, amenity and access to food, beverage and other services that make the area a more attractive place to visit

Whether the appearance of the operation is appropriate for the relevant reserve will also be considered as well as the space required.

 Track record and relevant experience The tenderer's track record and previous experience of delivering the activity/operation tendered 20%
 Price The tendered license fee 20%
Cultural and environmental appropriateness The consideration that the tenderer has towards cultural sensitivity and environmental appropriateness 15%

You can read the Temporary Commercial Activities on Reserve and other Council Manager Land policy here.

For any queries, please call Customer Services on 07 868 0200. 

Annual Operators Form

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need a licence for?

Any commercial operator wishing to utilise a Council-owned reserve to operate their business must apply for a licence to do so. This ensures that the proposed activity, food and beverage cart, or similar aligns with Council’s plans to enhance the utilisation and maintain shared access of reserve land. A map of the designated locations and number of available licences per site is included in the application package above.

How has the licensing process changed?

The licensing process is now a weighted tender model where applications are scored against a set of criteria designed to ensure that operators will meet the conditions of their licence through a number of agreed priorities. The criteria include enhancing the visitor experience and relevance to site, track record and relevant experience of the operator, cultural and environmental appropriateness and tendered price to be paid for the licence.

What is a weighted tender?

A weighted tender is a process by which each applicant will be assessed against a set of criteria and given a score based on the importance to council.  Each criteria has a percentage weighting – Enhancement of visitor experience and relevance to site (40%), track record and relevant experience (25%), price (20%) and cultural and environmental appropriateness (15%). 

How long is my licence valid for?

Commercial licences to operate on Council Reserve land will now be valid for a period of up to 9 years. The licence is subject to a 3 year right of renewal clause so that a formal check-in can be completed and both Council and the operator can ensure that the conditions of the licence are still relevant and applicable to the operation.

When do I need to renew my licence?

During the 9-year period of your licence, every three years there will be a formal opportunity to discuss the conditions of your licence and make any updates that may be required. If there are no required changes then you will only need to renew once every 9 years.


What areas are eligible for a licence?

Licences cover all areas of the Thames-Coromandel district. The locations are split by community board area and there are a number of licences in each area available for different activities. A full list of the licence types and quantity available is included in the licence application pack.




What are the types of licences available?

There are four types of licence available – single site, multiple site, transitory site and start-up. Each licence type is explained in the following FAQs with examples of how these categories work. 


What is a Single Site licence?

This licence category is for an operator who only requires one site of operation for their business with a fixed base or operational set up including and not limited to the temporary installation of awnings, tents, structures and signage. For example – a food and beverage trailer placed on a single reserve with signage and tables that is removed from the reserve at the end of each day. 


What is a multiple site licence?

This licence category is for an operator who requires more than one site of operation for the business with a fixed base or operational set up including and not limited to the temporary installation of awnings, tent, structures and signage. For example, a watercraft hire business that has two bases of operation on different reserves with an awning and signage that is removed at the end of each business day. Or a food and beverage operation that requires two fixed locations to allow for varied weather conditions and sets up a fixed base or operational set up which is removed at the end of the business day.


What is a Transitory licence?

This licence category is for operators who transit across council reserve land without any operational set up including, and not limited to, the temporary installation of awnings, tent, structures, parked vehicles and signage.  For example, a water-based activity that needs to transit participants across the reserve to take part in the activity and does not set up any operational base. It is possible to have multiple transitory licences to operate in this manner to allow for more favourable weather conditions. 

What is a Start up licence?

This licence category is for operators to trial a new business undertaking over a 12-month period. For example, a new operator to the area wants to trial a food and beverage cart to see if it will be viable. OR an existing operator wants to add to their existing offer with a different activity such as a water-based activity offering a food and beverage service and wishes to test the viability of this offering.


Can I apply for more than one type of licence?

Yes, you can based on the needs of your operation. For example, you may have a main operational base for your business, however you require additional access across reserves in unfavourable weather conditions without setting up a fixed base. In this instance you would need to apply for a Single site and Transitory licence stating in your application which is the main site of operation and which are the transitory sites. This is done in the price part of your application where you can note your main site and the transitory sites. 

Do I need a separate application for each licence type?

No, applications for all licence types can now be completed in the one form. You can even apply for different categories in the one form.

How much does it cost to obtain a licence?

Licence fees are now subject to a tendered process. The application form notes an indicative range and applicants are encouraged to price their tender accordingly.

How is my application evaluated?

Each application is evaluated by a panel with representatives from Thames-Coromandel District Council and an independent advisor. Each tender is evaluated against a set of objective criteria with each section of the tender weighted according to the importance of each aspect to Thames-Coromandel District Council.

What happens to the licence if I decide to sell my business?

Licences are now fully transferable as part of the sale process. Should you sell your business ,the prospective buyer can be informed of the period remaining on the licence. The prospective buyer will still need to supply Thames-Coromandel District Council with the required information that all licences are required to supply as a part of the application process.

Can more than one licencee operate from the same area?

Each reserve has a clearly outlined number of licences allocated. Licences may also be split based on the activities that the reserve can support. This is to ensure that operators are not competing against multiple suppliers of the same activity in the same area. Also to ensure that visitors can enjoy a variety of activities and food and beverage options across the Thames-Coromandel District.

Are transitory licences included in the total number of licences available at each site?

No, as a transitory licence is only for the collection or dropping off of clients, this can exist alongside a full licence for a location as the impact should be minimal and temporary with no operational set up.