Sexual Entertainment / Sex Establishments


There are 3 types of sex establishment, all of which are regulated under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions Act) 1982.

They are:

Sexual entertainment was added as a category in 2009 in order to provide better control of the growing number of lap dancing clubs that had previously only required a premises licence under the Licensing Act 2003. As that legislation seeks to promote the licensing objectives of prevention of crime and disorder, prevention of public nuisance, promotion of public safety and the protection of children from harm, none of which sexual entertainment venues tend to have a negative impact on, it was felt that alternative controls on such venues should be put in place.

The provision of any form of sexual establishment tends to be very contentious and any application for a licence will need to every carefully considered, not only by those making the decision on grant, but by the proposed operators before even submitting the application.

Before submitting an application, careful consideration should be given of the Licensing Authority’s Licensing Policy for Sex Establishments. The Policy will set out whether the Authority have set a limit on the number of sex establishments they will accept in their area or whether there are any geographical areas that they consider more acceptable for such premises. It may also set out any specific grounds of refusal that the Authority may rely on.

The application process for each type of licence is the same. An application form must be submitted to the Licensing Authority (local authority) for the area in which the premises situated. The form may vary from Authority to Authority but it will generally require detailed background information for the owners of the business and the management team. A copy of the application must be served on the Police and the application must be advertised on the premises and in the press. A fee is payable which again varies with each Authority but can run into thousands of pounds.

It is usual for all applications to be decided before a Committee of the Local Authority. There are set grounds of refusal some of which are mandatory and some of which are discretionary.

The most difficult grounds of refusal to overcome are those relating to the appropriateness of the grant taking into account the character of the relevant locality and the use to which other premises in the vicinity are put. Thus an application foe a sex establishment in a “smart” part of town or next to a school or church well may be refused on these grounds.

Sex establishment licences are renewable annually. This gives an opportunity for people to object on a yearly basis and if the character of the locality has changed in that time can give rise to a valid refusal of a licence for a premises which has been long established.

Sexual establishment  licences may be varied or  transferred from party to party subject to the appropriate application being submitted, served and the fee paid.

Appeals can be made by an operator refused a licence. However, appeals can only be made if the refusal was made on specific grounds which don’t include those relating to character of locality or the use of other premises in the vicinity.

Those objecting to the grant of a licence cannot appeal  against the decision of the Licensing Authority to grant.

If we can assist you in any way, or if you simply want to discuss any licensing & gambling issue, please contact us at any time.