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Sex Establishments

'Sex establishments' includes sex shops and sex cinemas. To run a sex shop - i.e. 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 will need a sex cinema 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.

The application fee for the grant of a licence is £1,140 plus a fee of £3,490 if a hearing is required to determine the application.  The fee for the renewal or transfer of an existing licence is £750.00 plus a fee of £2,435 if a hearing is required to determine the application. 

The licensing authority may attach conditions to the licence.

Target completion period: we will aim to issue your licence within 4 working days from determination of your application.

Regulation Summary

A summary of the relevant legislation for this licence.

Application Evaluation Process

Applications must 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.

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

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 us within a reasonable period, please contact us. You can do this online below if you applied through the UK Welcomes service or use the contact details provided.

Apply Online

You may Apply Online by clicking on Apply Online Here or via the Related Links to the right of this page.

Applicant Appeal

Please contact us 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 us in the first instance.

If an application to vary a licence is refused, or if a licence is revoked, the licence holder may appeal the decision. An appeal must be made to the local magistrates' court within 21 days of notification of the decision.

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

Customer Complaint

If you have a complaint about a licensed sex establishment, please try to resolve this direct with the licence holder in the first instance.  If you are unable to resolve the situation, please put your complaint in writing to the Licensing Team.

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.

Trade Associations


This is a sensitive and controversial subject.  We therefore recommend that any person wishing to apply for a licence for a sex establishment should contact the Licensing Manager on 01237 428991 for an initial discussion.