Apply for a licence to run a sex establishment



The Local Government (miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 lists sex shops, sex cinemas and sexual entertainment venues as the types of venues that fall under licensing regulations.

Fees Click to get info

  • Grant: £16,995
  • Renewal: £8,496

The Policing and Crime Act 2009 has introduced new additional powers for local authorities to regulate sexual entertainment venues. Sexual entertainment venues are premises where live entertainment or displays of nudity take place for the purpose of sexually stimulating an audience and one of the principal types of premises where this occur is lap dancing venues.

On 24 October 2013, the council passed a resolution that Schedule 3 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 (1982 Act) as amended by the Policing and Crime Act 2009 be adopted, with effect from the 1st January 2014.

The effect of passing this resolution is to require sexual entertainment venues to be licensed under the 1982 Act providing the council with additional powers to regulate sexual entertainment venues, as well as affording better control over the establishment of such premises in the borough.

The new powers allow the council to consider applications based on wider concerns than those permitted under previous legislation.

On 24 October 2013 the council also adopted its Sex Establishment Policy. The policy sets out the council's approach to the regulation of premises under the provisions of the 1982 Act.

Under the 1982 Act, the council has the discretion to refuse applications relating to sexual entertainment venues, on the grounds that the number of sexual entertainment venues in the relevant locality at the time of the application is made is equal to or exceeds the number in which the authority considers is appropriate for that locality.

The council considers that the appropriate maximum number of sexual entertainment venues in the relevant localities is as follows:

Ward Appropriate number
Cann Hall None
Cathall None
Chapel End None
Chingford Green None
Endlebury None
Forest None
Grove Green None
Hale End and Highams Park None
Hatch Lane None
High Street None
Higham Hill None
Hoe Street None
Larkswood None
Lea Bridge None
Leyton None
Leytonstone None
Markhouse None
Valley None
William Morris None
Wood Street None

View the Sex Establishment Policy (393KB PDF file)

Before applying to operate as a sex entertainment venue, please contact the licensing team for details.

The application process Click to get info

  • Fees will be payable for applications and conditions may be attached
  • Applications must be in writing (including by electronic means) and contain any information Waltham Forest Council requires, as well as the applicant's name, address and, where the applicant is an individual, their age, plus the address of the premises
  • On the date on which the application is made for a licence, the applicant is required to put up on and display a notice in a place where it can easily be seen and read by persons in the street or adjoining public place
  • This notice must be displayed for a period of 28 days
  • Within 7 days of applying for a licence a notice advertising the application must be published in a local newspaper
  • On receipt of a valid application, arrangements will be made to carry out a detailed inspection of the premises by council officers, fire safety officer and the police
  • As a result of these inspections you may be issued with a statement and schedule of works required to meet the council's requirements.
  • Any works detailed are in addition to those which may be required under Building Control or Planning Legislation - it is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all planning and building control have been obtained

To run a sex shop (i.e. any premises selling sex articles such as books, toys or R18 videos etc.) you may need a licence from the council. To run a venue where explicit films are shown to members of the public, you may also need a licence from us.

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 6 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

Regulation summary Click to get info

See a summary of the regulation relating to this licence on the Office of Public Sector Information website.

Will tacit consent apply? Click to get info

Yes. You can assume that your application is granted if no representations have been received within 28 days of submitting your application.

Please contact Waltham Forest Direct on 020 8496 3000 and ask for the licensing team in the first instance.

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

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
  • 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

Licence holder redress

Please contact Waltham Forest Direct on 020 8496 3000 and ask for the licensing team in the first instance.

A licence holder who wishes to appeal against a condition can appeal to a local magistrates' court and may also appeal to the crown court against a decision of a magistrates' court.

Licence holders may at any time apply to Waltham Forest Council 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.

Consumer complaint

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, gives advice on your consumer rights. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

Other redress

Please contact Waltham Forest Direct on 020 8496 3000 and ask for the licensing team in the first instance.

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.

Contact Click to get info

Waltham Forest Licensing Section
Resident Services
3 The Square
Leyton, London
E10 5NR

Phone: 020 8496 3000