Sex establishments licence

Sex establishment licences

Changes in legislation introduced a new category of sex establishment known as a 'sexual entertainment venue' (SEV).

This gives us powers to control the number and location of lap dancing clubs and similar venues.

A sexual entertainment venue is any premises at which ‘relevant entertainment’ is provided before a live audience for the financial gain of the organiser or entertainer.

‘Relevant entertainment’ is described as "any live performance or 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 an audience (whether by verbal or other means)".

An audience can consist of just one person.

Sexual entertainment venues (SEVss) are those that provide forms of entertainment such as:

  • lap dancing
  • pole dancing
  • table dancing
  • strip shows
  • peep shows
  • live sex shows

Sex shops and sex cinemas are not SEV’s, but are separately defined under the 1982 Act and require their own licence.

Premises that only provide relevant entertainment on an infrequent basis (defined by the 1982 Act as less than 1 per month) and premises exempted by the Secretary of State are also not included.


Sex shop or cinema

New licence: £620

Renewal (annual) licence: £430

Transfer or variation licence: £430

Sexual entertainment venue

New licence: £1,445. Checklist of what needs submitting.

Renewal (annual): £1,035. checklist of what needs submitting.

Transfer or variation: £1,035. Checklist for transfer or variation.

How to apply

You can apply online for a sex establishment licence (link opens in new window).

With your application you must:

  • pay the appropriate fee
  • place an advertisement in the local paper within 7 days of the application
  • place a notice on the site of premises for not less than 21 days from day following the day on which it was given to the licensing authority on blue paper (must be able to be seen conveniently by members of the public)
  • send a copy of the application to police
  • provide a photograph of each individual applicant
  • provide a criminal conviction certificate or record
  • provide a plan of the premises (at scale 1:100)

Tacit consent

Tacit consent does not apply for this licence. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please email the licensing team -

Appeals and redress

Rights of appeal following determination of application

The following persons may, at any time before the expiration of the period of 21 days beginning with the date on the which the individual is notified of the Councils decisions, appeal to a Magistrate's Court:

  • an applicant for the grant, renewal or transfer of a licence whose application was refused
  • an applicant for the variation of the terms, conditions or restrictions on or subject to which any such licence is held whose application is refused
  • a holder of any such licence who is aggrieved by any term, condition or restriction on or subject to which the licence is held
  • a holder of any such licence whose licence is revoked

Specific mandatory grounds for refusal of a licence are set out in the Act

A licence cannot be granted:

  • to anyone under 18 years of age
  • to someone who has held a licence that was revoked in the last 12 months (from the date of revocation)
  • to someone who has been refused a new or renewal of licence within the last 12 months (from the date of making the application
  • to an individual who is not resident in the United Kingdom or has not been resident for six months prior to the making of an application
  • to a company not incorporated in the United Kingdom

About the premises

Licences will not be granted for schools, colleges, nurseries or any other premises substantially used by children under 18 years of age

They not be granted in these areas:

  • areas frequented by children and families
  • residential areas
  • parks or other recreational areas used by children under 16 years
  • areas frequented by vulnerable adults
  • areas associated with family leisure and retail
  • community buildings
  • Churches or other places of religious worship
  • buildings or locations where leisure activities are undertaken
  • sites of historical or heritage value

About our area

Given the characteristics of Central Bedfordshire most areas will not be suitable.

Areas where it is likely a licence will be granted are industrial areas or adjacent to main transit routes.

There is no right of appeal against a decision based on this element of the policy.


You can view a register of sex establishment licences (PDF 2.4KB) issued in Central Bedfordshire.

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