Sex Establishment

All sex establishments require a licence issued by the local authority, as per Schedule 3 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982.

The provisions bring the licensing of lap dancing premises, and similar venues, in line with other sex establishments such as sex shops and sex cinemas. They allow us, as the Licensing Authority, to set a wider range of conditions on licences of sexual entertainment venues than those available under the Licensing Act 2003. It also allows local people to oppose an application for a sex establishment licence if they have legitimate concerns that a sexual entertainment venue would be inappropriate, given the character of an area.

Licences must be renewed annually, where people will also have the opportunity to raise any objections.


Types of sex establishment

A sex establishment means a sex cinema, sex shop or sexual entertainment venue. Each type is detailed below and also within our Icon for pdf Sex Establishment Policy [287.38KB].

Sex cinema

A 'sex cinema' is any premises, vehicle, vessel or stall that is used to a significant degree for the exhibition of moving pictures, by whatever means produced, which are: 

  • concerned primarily with the portrayal of, or primarily deal with or relate to, or are intended to stimulate or encourage sexual activity; or acts of force or restraint which are associated with sexual activity, or
  • concerned primarily with the portrayal of, or primarily deal with or relate to, genital organs or urinary or excretory functions.

A sex cinema doesn't include a dwelling house to which the public is not admitted.

Sex shop

A 'sex shop' means any premises, vehicle, vessel or stall that is used for a business which consists to a significant degree of selling, hiring, exchanging, lending, displaying or demonstrating:

  • sex articles, or
  • other things intended for use in connection with, or for the purpose of stimulating or encouraging sexual activity, or acts of force or restraint which are associated with sexual activity.

No premises shall be treated as a sex shop by reason only of their use for the exhibition of moving pictures, by whatever means produced.

A 'sex article' means:

  • anything made for use in connection with, or for the purpose of stimulating or encouraging sexual activity; or acts of force or restraint which are associated with sexual activity
  • any article containing or embodying matter to be read or looked at or anything intended to be used, either alone or as a set, for the reproduction or manufacture of any such article, and to any recording of vision or sound which is concerned primarily with the portrayal of, or primarily deals with or relates to, or is intended to stimulate or encourage, sexual activity or acts of force or restraint which are associated with sexual activity, or is concerned primarily with the portrayal of, or primarily deals with or relates to, genital organs, or urinary or excretory functions.

Restrict 18 (R18) films are classified by the British Board of Film Classification. R18 is a special and legally restricted classification primarily for explicit works of consenting sex or strong fetish material involving adults. Such films may only be shown to adults in specially licensed cinemas, and video works may be supplied to adults only in licensed sex shops. R18 video works may not be supplied by mail order.

Sexual entertainment venue

A sexual entertainment venue means "any premises at which relevant entertainment is provided before a live audience for financial gain of an organiser. For the purposes of the Act it does not matter whether the financial gain arises directly or indirectly from the performance or display of nudity".

Relevant entertainment means any live performance or any live display of nudity which is of such a nature that, ignoring financial gain, it must reasonably be assumed to be provided solely or principally for the purpose of sexually stimulating any member of the audience (whether by verbal or other means). An audience includes an audience of one.

A display of nudity means:

  • in the case of a woman; exposure of her nipples, pubic area, genitals or anus, and 
  • in the case of a man; exposure of his pubic area, genitals or anus.

An organiser means any person who is responsible for the organisation or management of the:

  • relevant entertainment, or
  • remises.

Exempt premises

Notwithstanding the above, the following are not defined as sexual entertainment venues:

  • sex cinemas and sex shops 
  • premises at which the provision of relevant entertainment is such that:
    • there have not been more than eleven occasions on which relevant entertainment has been so provided which fall (wholly or partly) within the period of 12 months
    • no occasion has lasted for more than 24 hours, and
    • no occasion has begun within the period of one month beginning with the end of any previous occasion on which relevant entertainment has been so provided.

For the purposes of Icon for pdf our Sex Establishment Policy [287.38KB], relevant entertainment is provided if, and only if, it is provided, or permitted to be provided, by or on behalf of the organiser before an audience and involves partial or full nudity.

Apply for a sex establishment licence

An applicant must:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • not be disqualified from holding a sex establishment licence
  • have been resident of an EEA State at least six months immediately before the application or, if a body corporate, must be incorporated in an EEA State
  • 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 process is the granting, renewal and transfer of licences. To make an application, you will need to provide us with the following:

  • a completed Icon for pdf Sex Establishment application form [836.98KB]
  • licensing fee of £1620
  • five copies of a scaled plan (the requirements for plans are detailed below)
  • any additional information in support of the application, where applicable.

Legislation requires the application form to be signed. We are able to accept completed applications by email, but an original, signed application must be posted to us.

Variation of a licence

The holder of a licence may, at any time, apply for a variation of the terms, conditions or restrictions on, or subject to, which the licence is held as may be specified in the application. The process to apply for a variation is the same as applying for an initial grant, except that a plan of the premises is not required unless the application involves structural alterations to the premises.

Renewal of a licence

The holder of a licence may apply for renewal of the licence. In order for the licence to continue to have effect during the renewal process, a valid application together with the appropriate fee must be submitted before the current licence expires. The process of applying for renewal of a licence is the same as applying for an initial grant, except that a plan of the premises is not required.

Transfer and cancellation of licences

A person may apply for the transfer of a licence at any time. The process of applying for the transfer of a licence is the same as applying for an initial grant, except that a plan of the premises is not required.

In the event of the death of the holder of a granted licence, that licence shall be deemed to have been granted to their personal representatives and shall, unless previously revoked, remain in force until the end of the period of three months beginning with the death and shall then expire. Note that the appropriate authority may, on the application of those representatives, extend or further extend the period of three months if the authority are satisfied that the extension is necessary for the purpose of winding up the deceased's estate and that no other circumstances make it undesirable.

We may, at the written request of the holder of a licence, cancel the licence.

Criteria for plans accompanying applications

The plan must show:

  1. the extent of the boundary of the building, if relevant, and any external and internal walls of the building and, if different, the perimeter of the premises
  2. the location of points of access to and egress from the premises
  3. the location of escape routes from the premises
  4. in a case where the premises is to be used for more than one licensable activity, the area within the premises used for each activity
  5. fixed structures (including furniture) or similar objects temporarily in a fixed location (but not furniture) which may impact on the ability of individuals on the premises to use exits or escape routes without impediment
  6. in a case where the premises includes a stage or raised area, the location and height of each stage or area relative to the floor
  7. in a case where the premises includes any steps, stairs, elevators or lifts, the location of the steps, stairs, elevators or lifts
  8. in the case where the premises includes any room or rooms containing public conveniences, the location of the room or rooms
  9. the location and type of any fire safety and any other safety equipment including, if applicable, marine safety equipment, and
  10. the location of a kitchen, if any, on the premises.

The plan may include a legend through which the matters mentioned or referred to above are sufficiently illustrated by the use of symbols on the plan.

Advertising an application

Applicants must advertise their application in a local newspaper. The advertisement must be made no later than seven days after the date of the application and must be published on at least one occasion.

Where an application is in respect of premises, notice(s) should also be displayed for no less than 21 consecutive days, beginning with the date of the application on or near the premises. The notice must be displayed in a place where it can be conveniently read by the public, for example from the exterior of the premises. The notice must identify the relevant premises and must be of a size equal to, or larger, than A3. It must be on white paper, printed in black ink or typed in black in a font size equal to, or larger, than 16.

Every notice which relates to a vehicle, vessel or stall must specify where it is to be used as a sex establishment.

Duty to notify police

In the case of electronic applications, a copy of an application for the grant, renewal or transfer of a licence will be sent by the Licensing Authority to the relevant authorities within seven days of the application having been received.

In any other case, a copy of the application for the grant, renewal or transfer of a licence must be sent (no later than seven days after the date of application) to:

  • Chief Officer of Police
    Lincolnshire Police Headquarters
    Licensing-Alcohol
    PO Box 999
    Lincoln
    LN5 7PH

Licence consultation

On receipt of an application, a consultation will be carried out with the Police, Fire Authority, the Council's Planning and Development Services, and Environmental Health and Housing Services. Additionally, consultation may be undertaken with local residents associations, parish councils, local ward members and in some cases neighbouring properties and residents.

The consultation process usually takes approximately 14 days, depending on the complexity of the application. If queries are raised during consultation, applicants will be contacted in writing and/or by telephone and given opportunity to address them.

Licence objections

Where a person wishes to object to an application for a grant, renewal or transfer of a licence, they should give notice in writing of the objection to the Licensing and Business Support Manager at South Holland Council. The objection should state the general terms of the grounds of the objection, no later than 28 days after the date of the application.

Where objections are received, before considering the application, we will give notice in writing of the general terms of the objection to the applicant. We will not, without the consent of the person making the objection, reveal the name or address to the applicant.

In considering any application for the grant, renewal or transfer of a licence, we will have regard to any observations submitted by the Chief Officer of Police, and any objections.

Licence hearing committee meetings

All application to grant, transfer or vary a licence must be heard by the Council's Licensing Committee. Renewal applications that receive objections must also be heard by the Licensing Committee.

The refusal of an application for the grant, renewal or transfer of a Sex Establishment Licence may be undertaken based on the following criteria:

  • the applicant is unsuitable to hold the licence by reason of having been convicted of an offence or for any other reasons
  • that if the licence were to be granted, renewed or transferred, the business to which it relates would be managed 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 they made the application themselves.

Additional considerations, solely for grants and renewals include:

  • that the number of sex establishments in the South Holland district is equal to, or exceeds, the number which we consider is appropriate. (No decision has yet to be taken by the Council as to the number deemed appropriate).
  • that the grant of the licence would be inappropriate, having regard to:
    • the character of the locality
    • to the use to which any premises in the vicinity are put, or
    • to the layout, character or condition of the premises, vehicle, vessel or stall in respect of which the application is made.

Refusal of a licence

Where we refuse to grant, renew, or transfer a licence, we will provide the applicant with a statement containing the reasons for the decision in writing. The fee is not refundable.

Application timescales

We will endeavour to contact you within five working days of making an application. If we have not contacted you within this time, please contact us to check that your application was correctly made and received.

Having received all responsible authority comments and public representations and taking into account the standard conditions, your application will be heard by the Council's Licensing Committee in all occasions, other than renewals for which no objections have been received.

Standard applications with no objections will take a minimum of four weeks to process. If there are objections, this time period is increased and the application is likely to take up to eight weeks to process, depending on the date of the next Licensing Committee meeting.

Length of licence

A licence will remain in force for one year, or a shorter period may be specified on the licence if we think it is appropriate.

On receipt of a suitable application we may, where we think fit, transfer that licence to another individual.

Where an application has been made for its renewal before the date of licence expiry, it shall be deemed to remain in force notwithstanding that the date has passed until the withdrawal of the application or its determination by us.

Where an application has been made for its transfer before the date of licence expiry, it shall be deemed to remain in force with any necessary modifications until the withdrawal of the application or its determination, notwithstanding that the date has passed or that the person to whom the licence is to be transferred if the application is carrying on the business of the sex establishment.

Licence conditions

We have made regulations under Section 13 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 which prescribe Icon for pdf standard conditions [11.04KB]. Conditions include areas such as the permitted hours of opening and closing or visibility to passers by, for example. Where a licence is granted, renewed or transferred, licences will be presumed to be subject to them unless they have been expressly excluded or varied.

Licence holders may, at any time, apply for a variation of the terms, conditions or restrictions of the licence. Licence holders shall display a copy of the licence and the above regulations which prescribe the conditions subject to which the licence is held, in a suitable place.

Rights of entry

Where a warrant is granted by a Justice of the Peace, a Police Constable or authorised officer of a Local Authority may at any reasonable time, enter and inspect any sex establishment in respect of which a licence is for the time being in force with a view to ascertaining various offences.

Offences and penalties

A person who:

  • knowingly uses, or knowingly causes or permits the use of, any premises, vehicle, vessel or stall except under, and in accordance with, the terms of a licence
  • being the holder of a licence for a sex establishment, employs in the business of the establishment any person known to him to be disqualified from holding such a licence
  • being the holder of a licence, or the servant or agent of the holder of a licence, without reasonable excuse knowingly contravenes, or permits the contravention of a term, condition, or restriction specified in the licence
  • in connection with an application for the grant, renewal or transfer of a licence, makes a false statement which he knows to be false in any material respect or which he does not believe to be true, shall be guilty of an offence
  • without reasonable excuse knowingly permits a person under the age of 18 years of age to enter an establishment
  • employs a person known to him to be under 18 years of age in the business of the establishment
  • shall be guilty of an offence liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £20,000.

A person who fails to display a copy of the licence and any conditions at a premises, shall be guilty of an offence and liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale (currently £1,000).

A person who, without reasonable excuse, refuses to permit a Constable or authorised officer to exercise their power of entry under warrant, shall for every such refusal be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 of the standard scale (currently £5,000).

Where a licence is revoked, its holder shall be disqualified from holding or obtaining a licence in South Holland for a period of 12 months, beginning with the date of revocation.

Offences by bodies corporate

Where an offence committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with consent or connivance of, or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate, or any person who was purporting to act in any such capacity, he as well as the body corporate, shall be guilty of the offence.

Where the affairs of a body corporate area managed by its members, the above situation shall apply to the acts and defaults of a member in connection with his function of management as if he were a director of the body corporate.

If you require further information, please contact us using the online Licensing general enquiry form.