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Licensing sex establishments

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

The Policing and Crime Act 2009, adopted from 17 November 2014, made provision for Local Authorities to control the licensing of sexual entertainment venues such as lap dancing and pole dancing clubs, topless bars and strip shows.

A sex establishment is a sex shop, a sex cinema or sexual entertainment venue and requires a licence to operate.

A sex shop includes any premises selling, hiring or displaying sex articles, books or videos to a significant degree.

A sex cinema includes any premises showing explicit films to members of the public to a significant degree.

A sexual entertainment venue is any premises, live performance or live display of nudity which is for the purpose of sexual stimulation of any member of the audience. This includes lap dancing, pole dancing, topless bars or strip shows.

Please note that these are not actual legal definitions but provide general guidance and examples of the types of premises that could be classified as sex establishments.

Sex Establishment Licensing Policy

The Council formally adopted a icon Sex Establishment Licensing Policy [1.12MB] on 18 March 2015, effective from 18 March 2015, to regulate the activities of sex establishments.

Existing operators of sexual entertainment venues who were previously licensed under the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003 are subject to 'transitional arrangements' that started on 17 November 2014.

When considering an application to operate a sex establishment licence the Council will consider its own Sex Establishment Licensing Policy, which sets out the procedures that the Council will follow in regulating the sex industry.

All applications must be properly advertised by a site notice displayed at the premises and by advertisement in a local newspaper. During this process, local residents and businesses have the opportunity to make representations in support or against any particular application. If you want further information on the representation process, please contact us.


icon Application for Grant of a Sexual Entertainment Venue Licence [272.37KB]

Once we have received your application, supporting documents and the appropriate fee, we will process your application after the 28 day representation period has expired.


icon Sex Establishment Policy approved by Council 2015 [1.12MB]

icon Sexual Entertainment Venues - Home Office Guidance [164.94KB]