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Licence - Sex Establishment

    Business Licences and Street Trading

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

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


    Licence Summary

    To run a sex shop - ie any premises selling sex toys, books or videos - you may need a licence from the local authority. To run a venue where explicit films are shown to members of the public, you also need a licence from the local authority.

    Eligibility Criteria

    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

    When considering an application for a sex establishment licence the Council 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

    Regulation Summary

    A summary of the regulation relating to this licence

    Sex Establishment Licence Conditions (pdf 14kb)

    Application Evaluation Process

    Fees will be payable for applications and conditions may be attached.

    Applications must be in writing (including by electronic means) and contain any information the local authority requires, as well as the applicant's name, address and, where the applicant is an individual, their age, plus the address of the premises.

    Applicants must give public notice of their application by publishing an advertisement in a local newspaper.

    Will Tacit Consent Apply?

    No. It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from the local authority within a reasonable period, please contact the Council.

    Apply online

    Apply for a licence for a sex establishment

    Sex Establishment Licence Conditions

    Refund Policy

    Please note that refunds of licence fees are not normally given. Only in exceptional circumstances, as deemed by the Licensing Manager, will a refund be considered. Any refunds given may be subject to an administration charge.

    Failed Application Redress

    Please contact the Licensing Section on 01785 619402 in the first instance.

    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

    Licence Holder Redress

    Please contact the Licensing Section on 01785 619402 in the first instance.

    A licence holder who wishes to appeal against a condition can appeal to a local magistrates' court.

    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 a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK, Citizen's Advice will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

    Licence holders may at any time apply to the authority for a variation of the terms, conditions or restrictions in their licence.

    If an application for a variation is refused, or if the licence is revoked, the licence holder may, within 21 days of being notified of the imposition of, or the refusal to vary, the term, condition or restriction in question, or of the revocation, appeal to the local magistrates' court.

    A licence holder may also appeal to the crown court against a decision of a magistrates' court.

    Other Redress

    Any person objecting to an application for the grant, renewal or transfer of a licence may give written notice of their objection to the relevant authority, stating the grounds of the objection, within 28 days of the date of the application.

    Offences and Penalties

    • 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 £1,000 to £20,000.

    Further Information

    Copies of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 can be purchased from Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

    A copy of the legislation can be viewed at the Council Offices where you can also obtain an application form and a copy of our standard conditions.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    What is a sex establishment?

    A sex establishment can either be a Sex Shop or a Sex Cinema.

    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. TOP

    How do I apply for a licence?

    The law defines the way in which an application is made, which include advertising 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. TOP

    My licence application has been refused. Can I appeal?

    • Any person aggrieved by a refusal to be granted a licence or by any condition to which a licence is subject may appeal to the Magistrates' Court.
    • An appeal against a decision made at the Magistrates' Court may be appealed at the Crown Court but the decision of the Crown Court is final. TOP


    Sex Establishment Licence Conditions (pdf 14kb)



    Tel: 01785 619000
    Fax: 01785 619319

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