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Licence summary

To operate a sex establishment within the borough you need a licence.

A sex establishment means a sexual entertainment venue, a sex shop or a sex cinema.

A sexual entertainment venue is any premises at which any live performance or live display of nudity is provided - lap dancing, strip shows and similar entertainment fall under this definition.

A sex shop means any premises used for a business which consists of selling, hiring, exchanging, lending, displaying or demonstrating sex articles or other things intended for use in connection with sexual activity.

A sex cinema is defined as any premises used for the exhibition of moving pictures, which are concerned primarily with the portrayal of sexual activity.

Please see our Sex Establishment Licensing Policy(pdf, 73KB) for more guidance.

Eligibility criteria

Regulation summary

A summary of the eligibility criteria for this licence

Application evaluation process

Once your application is received, a licensing officer will contact you to make arrangements to carry out an inspection of your premises.

The inspection will be to ensure that the premises meet the standards in the licensing conditions.

A fee is payable for an application and conditions may be attached.

View fees and charges

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.

Will tacit consent apply?

No. Your licence will only be issued to you when all the necessary inspections /checks have been carried out and the premises meets the required standards.

The licence may also list additional site specific conditions.

How to apply

Before you apply for a new or to renew a sex establishment licence please see the guidance notes in the "Related information and downloads" section. A notice of the application must be placed in the window of the premises and also in the local newspaper. Specimens for notices are also available to download.

Related information and downloads

The office details shown on the forms has changed. All forms and associated information must be submitted to the Licensing Team at the address shown below.

New sex establishments

Renewal of an existing sex establishment licence

Make an application

Apply on-line

Apply for a new/renewal of sex establishment licence

Apply by post

If you prefer to apply by post, please download the application form and once completed send it to the Licensing Team together with the completed directors form and a cheque for the relevant fee.

Failed application redress

Please contact your Local Authority 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.

There is a right of appeal to the Magistrates’ Court, as set out in para. 27 of Schedule 3 of the Act. An appeal against the decision of a Magistrates’ Court may be brought to the Crown Court. In addition, the decision of the sub-committee could be challenged by way of Judicial Review’

The existence of a nil policy is not a mandatory ground for refusal, rather it is discretionary.

Although the adopted policy states that the appropriate number of sex establishments in each ward is nil, each application has to be treated on its individual merits.

Grounds for refusal - mandatory

The Licensing Authority or the Licensing Sub-Committee cannot grant a licence:

(a) to a person under the age of 18; or

(b) to a person who is for the time being disqualified; or

(c) to a person, other than a body corporate, who is not resident in an EEA state or was not so resident throughout the period of six months immediately preceding the date when the application was made; or

(d) to a body corporate which is not incorporated in an EEA state; or

(e) to a person who has, within a period of 12 months immediately preceding the date when the application was made, been refused the grant or renewal of a licence for the premises, vehicle, vessel or stall in respect of which the application is made, unless the refusal has been reversed on appeal.

Grounds for refusal - discretionary

The Licensing Authority or the Licensing Sub-Committee has discretion to grant or refuse a licence:

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

(b) if the licence were to be granted, renewed or transferred 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, renewal or transfer of such a licence if he made the application himself;

(c) if the number of sex establishments, or of sex establishments of a particular kind, in the relevant locality at the time the application is determined is equal to or exceeds the number which the authority consider is appropriate for that locality and Nil may be an appropriate number;

(d) if the grant or renewal of the licence would be inappropriate, having regard

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

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

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

A decision to refuse a licence must be relevant to one or more of the above grounds.

Clear reasons will be given for Licensing Authority or the Licensing Sub-Committee decisions.

Licence holder redress

Please contact your Local Authority in the first instance.

A licence holder who wishes to appeal against a condition can appeal to a local magistrates' court.

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

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

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

Contact the Licensing Team

If you have any questions or comments please contact Licensing Team.


Regulatory Services Partnership (serving Merton, Richmond and Wandsworth Councils) 
Merton Civic Centre 
London Road 
SM4 5DX 


EUGO - Part of the EUGO network

Updated: 17 October 2023

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