Sex shop and sex cinema licence

About sex shops and cinema licences

Summary of requirements

Wandsworth Council has adopted schedule 3 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, which covers the licensing of sex establishment and Section 12 of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1986, which amends the definition of sex establishment to include sex encounter establishments (such as peep shows). Therefore, to run a sex shop, sex cinema or sex encounter establishment in this borough you will need a licence from us.

The Policing and Crime Act 2009, when it comes fully into force, will reclassify lap dancing clubs as a 'sex establishment' rather than an entertainment venue. More information on this will be provided when the necessary regulations and guidance have been brought into effect.

Eligibility criteria

An applicant for a sex establishment licence:

  • 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

A fee of £2880 is payable for both new and renewal applications. No element of the fee will be refunded should the application be withdrawn or refused. The licence, unless cancelled or revoked, remains in force for 12 months.

The council is able to adopt reasonable policy guidelines to help it determine its application and, in particular the number of sex establishments that it considers appropriate for each locality. This Authority has adopted policy guidelines which state that there is no place within the council boundaries of which it could be said that it was situated in a locality in which it would be appropriate to licence a sex establishment. However, this does not prevent an application from being made as any application must be considered on its own merits.

Application evaluation process

All applications must be advertised in the local press. In addition, where the application is in respect of premises, a notice must be displayed outside the premises for 21 days. A copy of the application must also be sent to the Metropolitan Police no later than seven days after the application is made.

Objections

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.

All applications for the grant or renewal of a licence will be considered by the council's Regulatory Licensing Committee. An application can only be refused on the following grounds:

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

b) that if the licence were to be granted, the business to which it relates would be managed by or carried on for the benefit of a person, other than the applicant, who would be refused the grant of such a licence if he made the application himself

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 the authority considers is appropriate for the locality

d) the grant of the licence would be inappropriate, having regard:

     (i) to the character of the relevant locality; or

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

    (iii) to the layout, character or condition of the premises in
           respect of which the application is made.

Local authorities may impose terms, conditions and restrictions when granting or renewing a licence.

Will tacit consent apply?

No. It is in the public interest that we must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from Wandsworth Council within a reasonable period, please contact us. You can do this online if you applied through the UK Welcomes service. Alternatively, contact:

Safety & Licensing Team
Wandsworth Council
Administration Department
Environmental Services, Public Health
Town Hall
Wandsworth High Street
London
SW18 2PU

Email: esd@wandsworth.gov.uk

What can I do if my application is refused?

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:

South Western Magistrates' Court
176a Lavender Hill
London SW11 1JU

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, or
  • 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

In such cases, an applicant may apply to the High Court for judicial review of the decision.

What if I am unhappy with a condition imposed?

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

If an application for a variation is refused or if the licence is revoked, the licence holder may appeal to the local magistrates' court (address above) 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.

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

What if I have a query about my licence?

Please contact Wandsworth Council at:  

Safety & Licensing Team
Wandsworth Council
Administration Department
Environmental Services, Public Health
Town Hall
Wandsworth High Street
London
SW18 2PU

Email: licensing@wandsworth.gov.uk

European services directive

If you think that the council has not complied with the European services directive by imposing requirements or conditions in respect of your application that are discriminatory, unfair or disproportionate, please contact:

UK SOLVIT Centre
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
1 Victoria Street
London SW1H 0ET

Email: solvit@bis.gsi.gov.uk

Consumer complaints about sex establishments

Please contact Wandsworth Council at:

Safety & Licensing Team
Wandsworth Council
Administration Department
Environmental Services, Public Health
Town Hall
Wandsworth High Street
London
SW18 2PU

Email: licensing@wandsworth.gov.uk

Health and safety

Before setting up any business in the UK, you must ensure that it will comply with the relevant health and safety regulations. Please see the links below for further information:

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