Sex shop licence

Our licensing payments page explains what fees apply and how to pay them.‌

The law defines the way in which an application is made. You will need to advertise notice of the application in the local press and display a Sex establishment notice outside the premises for a specific time period to give passers by the opportunity to comment by the statutory closing date. You must complete an application form for a Sex establishment application by individual or a Sex establishment application by a company.

When considering an application for a sex establishment licence we may only consider the following criteria;

  • The suitability of the applicant.
  • The location and situation of the premises in relation to other premises in the vicinity.
  • Whether the number of sex establishments in that locality is equal to, or exceeds the number which we consider appropriate for the area.

See our Sex establishment policy for more details.

Our licensing payments page explains how to pay any fees. If you have paid by debit/credit card or by bacs before you have submitted your application form then you must include a copy of your receipt with the application. Any application received without the payment will not be processed.

1. In determining whether the applicant is suitable to hold a licence, we will take into account relevant criminal convictions and any other relevant information.

2. A maximum of two sex establishments will be licensed in the city centre (the city centre is defined as the area inside the inner ring road, identified in the plan attached to the standard conditions). This is the number of sex establishments that we consider appropriate for the city centre locality having regard to the compact size and nature of the city centre.

3. A sex establishment licence will only be granted outside the city centre in exceptional circumstances. This is because business premises outside the city centre are generally located in close proximity to residential accommodation and/or community facilities such as schools, places of worship and community centres.

4. The ‘relevant locality’ will be determined on the basis of each application.

5. There will be a presumption against granting a sex establishment licence when the premises are in close proximity to:

  • schools, nurseries & children’s centres
  • places of worship.

6. A sex establishment licence will not be granted in a predominantly residential area.

7. Premises to be licensed must be capable of meeting our standard conditions for sex establishment licences.

A licence cannot be granted:-

(a) to a person under 18, or

(b) to a person disqualified from holding a licence, or

(c) to a person not resident in the UK, or

(d) to a company not incorporated in the UK, or

(e) to a person who has been refused a licence in the previous 12 months.

We may refuse to grant a licence on one or more of the following grounds:-

(a) That the applicant is unsuitable to hold a licence by having been convicted of an offence or for any other reason

(b) Where the business is managed or carried on for the benefit of some other person who would not have been granted a licence.

(c) That the number of sex establishments in the relevant locality at the time the application is made is equal to or exceeds the number which we consider is appropriate for the locality

(d) That the grant of the licence would be inappropriate having regard to:-

(i) the character of the relevant locality; or

(ii) the use to which any premises in the vicinity are put; or

(iii) the layout character or condition of the premises

1. It is not necessary to afford objectors a hearing, although we have the discretion to do so.

2. The discretion will be exercised sparingly having regard to the risk of unfairness to the applicant.

3. The discretion will only be exercised if we are satisfied that:

(a) Only those objectors whose written objections have been received before the end of the 28 day objection period are heard.

(b) Those objectors will be confined to putting forward only those points which are relevant to consideration of the grounds of refusal and which have been notified to the applicant in advance of the meeting.

(c) If the objectors are heard at the same hearing as the applicant, the applicant will be given the opportunity to hear what the objectors say.

(d) If the objectors are heard at the same hearing as the applicant, the Chair will ensure that the proceedings are conducted as a hearing of the applicant’s case for grant, renewal or transfer of the licence and not as an adversarial contest between the applicant and the objectors.

4. The discretion to afford the objectors a hearing will be exercised by the Assistant Director of Environment & Regulatory Services in consultation with the Chair.

5. Objectors will not be afforded the opportunity to be heard at the same hearing as the applicant without the consent of the applicant and in any event, this course will rarely be adopted. In the event that consent is not given by the applicant, there will be two hearings. At the first hearing the Committee will hear the objectors and at the second hearing the Committee will hear the applicant.

6. Prior to any hearing, we will give notice to the applicant of the general terms of the objections.

7. We will not reveal an objectors name and address to the applicant without the consent of the objector.

8. At the hearing to determine an application for grant or renewal of a sex establishment licence, at which the objectors are not present, the procedure will be as follows:

  • Officer to present the report and outline the general terms of the objections
  • Applicant (or his representative) afforded the opportunity to ask the Officer questions
  • Members afforded the opportunity to ask the Officer questions
  • Applicant (or his representative) to present the application and respond to the objections raised
  • Officer afforded the opportunity to ask the Applicant questions
  • Members afforded the opportunity to ask the Applicant questions
  • Officer invited to sum up
  • Applicant (or his representative) invited to sum up
  • Members retire to make their decision
  • The meeting is reconvened and the decision of the Committee is announced.

9. At the hearing to determine an application for grant or renewal of a sex establishment licence, at which the objectors are present, the procedure will be as follows:

  • Officer to present the report and outline the general terms of the application
  • Objectors afforded the opportunity to ask the Officer questions
  • Applicant (or his representative) afforded the opportunity to ask the Officer questions
  • Members afforded the opportunity to ask the Officer questions
  • Objectors asked to outline the general terms of their objection
  • Officer afforded the opportunity to ask the Objector questions
  • Applicant (or his representative) afforded the opportunity to ask the Objector questions
  • Members afforded the opportunity to ask the Objector questions
  • Applicant (or his representative) to present the application and respond to the objections raised
  • Officer afforded the opportunity to ask the Applicant questions
  • Objectors afforded the opportunity to ask the Applicant questions
  • Members afforded the opportunity to ask the Applicant questions
  • Officer invited to sum up
  • Objectors invited to sum up
  • Applicant (or his representative) invited to sum up
  • Members retire to make their decision
  • The meeting is reconvened and the decision of the Committee is announced.

10. Where we refuse to grant, renew or transfer a licence, it will, if required to do so by the applicant or holder of the licence, give him a statement of the reasons for the decision in writing within 7 days of the request.