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Sex Establishment Licence

Sex Establishment Licensing Policy Review

There are currently no sex establishments within the Borough, there has not been a sex establishment application made since the current policy was adopted and there have been no changes to legislation or Home Office guidance regarding how sex establishments are licenced.

Given the current impact of COVID 19, the revised government regulations and current rules impacting the trade (Sexual Entertainment Venues have remained a restricted business since March 2020), it is proposed to readopt the current policy with minor amendments. A copy of the draft policy can be found here, with any changes highlighted in red.


Licence Summary

Sex Establishments are required to be licensed under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982.

A sex establishment can either be a Sex Shop, a Sex Cinema or a Sexual Entertainment Venue.

A sex shop is a premises used for business which consists to a significant degree of selling sex articles.

A sex cinema is any premises used to a significant degree for showing of films which are concerned primarily with, or relate to, or are intended to stimulate sexual activity.

A sexual entertainment venue is a venue that generally offers one or more of the following:

  • Lap dancing
  • Pole dancing
  • Table dancing
  • Strip shows
  • Peep shows
  • Live sex shows

Applications will generally only be granted if they are in predominantly commercial areas. Applications will not normally be granted if they are to be within:

  • areas that are exclusively, or predominantly residential in character; or
  • in close proximity to a school or any other premises used by children or vulnerable adults; or access routes to such premises; or
  • a publicly accessible open space that is regularly frequented by children or vulnerable adults; or
  • in close proximity to a place of worship; or access routes to such premises; or
  • areas that are likely to be adversely effected due to the cumulative impact of existing Sex Establishments

An applicant:

  • must be at least 18 years old
  • must not be disqualified from holding a licence
  • must have been resident in the UK at least six months immediately before the application or, if a body corporate, must be incorporated in the UK
  • must not have been refused the grant or renewal of a licence for the premises in question within the last 12 months unless the refusal has been reversed on appeal


Regulation Summary

Copies of relevant legislation can be found on the website.


Application Process

See our Licensing Fees and Charges webpage for a full list of application fees.

The law defines the way in which an application is made, which include advertising a notice of the application in the local press and displaying a notice outside the premises for a specific time period to give passers by the opportunity to comment by a statutory closing date.

When considering an application for a sex establishment licence we may only use the following criteria:

  • the suitability of the Applicant
  • whether the person applying is a "front" person for someone else
  • the location and situation of the premises in relation to other premises in the area
  • whether the number of sex establishments in that locality is equal to, or exceeds the number which the Council considers appropriate for the area

Anybody who operates a sex establishment without a licence or fails to comply with licence conditions or admits persons under the age of 18 is committing an offence.

Penalties upon conviction can range from £1000 to £20,000.


How To Apply

To apply for a Sex Establishment Licence please download and complete the form below.

Application Form Apply online
Application For Grant/Renewal Of A Sex Establishment Licence View

Contact us about a sex establishment licence


Guidance Notes

To view guidance documents please select the appropriate link below:

Sex Establishment Licensing Policy

Sex Establishment Regulations

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Will Tacit Consent Apply?

Tacit consent means that if we have not dealt with applications within the target period then the application can be deemed to have been granted/approved.

Please note that tacit consent does not apply in respect of this application. It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please contact us. You can do this online if you applied through the UK Welcomes service or contact us.


Licence Holder Redress

Any applicant who is refused a licence, or refused the renewal of a licence, may, within 21 days of being notified of the refusal, appeal to the local magistrates' court.

However, the right to appeal does not apply where the licence was refused on the grounds that:

  • the number of sex establishments in the area exceeds the number which the authority consider is appropriate
  • the grant of the licence would be inappropriate considering the character of the area, the nature of other premises in the area, or the premises themselves.

Please contact your Local Authority in the first instance.


Consumer Complaint

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you, preferably in the form of a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK, visit our Consumer pages or for advice. From outside of the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

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