Sex establishment licence

To run a sex shop i.e. any premises selling sex toys, books or videos, you may need a licence from the Council.

You will also need a licence from the Council to run a venue where explicit films are shown to members of the public.

You may apply to the local authority requesting them to waive the requirement of a licence.

Sex entertainment venues

For details on the application criteria, please read the sexual entertainment venues policy.

The licence fee for a sexual entertainment venue has been set at the same fee as a sex shop/sex cinema licence.

Sex establishment licence eligibility

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.

Sex establishment application evaluation

The first thing you must do is to complete an application form.

Before completing the application form, we would strongly advise you to make yourself aware of the conditions under which a licence can be refused.

Apply for a licence

When you are happy to proceed with the application form, take a photocopy.

You must:

  • send the original application form to the licensing section
  • send a photocopy of the form to the police
  • advertise your application in the local newspaper.

We will carry out a full consultation with anyone who could be affected by your business and then prepare a report for the licensing committee.

The licensing committee will review your application and consider any supporting evidence presented by yourself and the Council's licensing team. You will be informed in writing of the outcome.

Under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, there are a number of circumstances where an application would not be granted:

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

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 they made the application themselves

that the number of sex establishments in the relevant locality is equal to or exceeds the number which the Authority considers is appropriate for that locality

that the granting of the licence would be inappropriate, with regard to the character of the relevant locality or the use to which any premises in the vicinity are put or the layout, character or condition of the premises.

You are advised to contact us to obtain a full list of possible reasons under which a licence may not be granted.

You have the right of appeal and must apply in writing to the magistrate's court within 21 days of receipt of the decision. At this stage you are advised to seek independent legal advice.

A licence for a sex/adult shop is valid for 12 months. You must reapply for a licence prior to the expiry of the licence.

The procedure for renewal of a licence is the same procedure that must be followed for a new application.

During the period that your licence is valid you may be inspected by a health and safety and/or licensing officers. They will make sure you are operating by the condition under which your licence was granted and make sure that you are meeting legal requirements.

Fees will be payable for applications and conditions may be attached.

Applications must contain:

  • any information the Council requires
  • the applicant's name and address where the applicant is an individual
  • the applicants age
  • the address of the premises.

Applicants must give public notice of their application by publishing an advertisement in a local newspaper.

It is in the public interest that we must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please contact us or do this online if you applied through the UK Welcomes service.

Sex establishment failed applications

If you have a failed application, please contact us.

Any applicant who is refused a licence or refused the renewal of a licence, may appeal to the local magistrates' court within 21 days of being notified of the refusal.

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 considers appropriate
  • where 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.

Sex establishment 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.

Objections should be addressed to:

Licensing Service, Davyfield Depot, White Dove Building, Roman Road Industrial Estate, Blackburn BB1 2LX

Sex establishment complaints

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you - preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK, Citizens Advice service will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

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 at a magistrates' court.

Licence holder redress: appeals

Please contact us.

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