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Luton Borough Council

Sex establishment licence

All premises selling material of a sexual nature must be licensed by the local authority under the local government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982. A brief outline of the definitions are below.

A sex establishment can either be a sex shop, a sex cinema or sexual entertainment venue.

A sex shop is a premises where the business consists, to a significant degree, of selling sex articles.

A sex cinema is any premises, used to a significant degree, for showing of films which are concerned primarily with, or relate to, or are intended to stimulate sexual activity.

A sexual entertainment venue means any premises that provides live performance or live display of nudity to a live audience for the financial gain of the organiser or the entertainer.

The law defines the way in which an application is made, including advertising the notice of the application in the local press and displaying a notice outside the premises for a specified time period, to give passers-by the opportunity to comment prior to a statutory closing date.

When considering an application for a sex establishment licence the council may only consider the following criteria:

a) the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982
b) any supporting regulations
c) the Statement of Licensing Policy
d) comments made by the Chief Officer of Police and objections made
e) In all cases, the council reserves the right to consider each application on its own merit

Apply online

Apply for a licence for a sex shop, cinema or sexual entertainment venue
Surrender, transfer or report a change to your current licence

Apply by post
You can download an application form from the bottom of the page.

Requirements for a Grant, Renewal, Variation and Transfer

  • All Grant applications must be submitted along with a plan. (Please see Licensing Policy for Sex Establishments for plan requirements) Variations will require a plan if there are structural alterations to the premises
  • Renewals and Transfer applications are not required
  • A Notice must be displayed both on the premises and newspaper, further details can be found in the Licensing Policy for Sex Establishments

Offences and penalties
Anybody who operates a sex establishment without a licence or fails to comply with the condition of the licence, or admits persons under the age of 18 is committing an offence:

  1. Penalties upon conviction range from £1,000 to £20,000, per offence

Your right of appeal
If your application for a licence is refused, you may appeal by:

  1. Any person aggrieved by a refusal to be granted a licence or by any condition to which a licence is subject may appeal to the Magistrates' Court
  2. An appeal against a decision made at the Magistrates Court may be appealed at the Crown Court but the decision of the Crown Court is final

Policy Consultation
The Statement of Licensing Policy was adopted on 2nd November 2010. The Policy is available to download below.

Further information
Copies of the local government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 can be purchased from Her Majesty's Stationery Office. A copy of the legislation may be viewed at the council offices, where you can also obtain an application form and a copy of our standard conditions.


Contact info
Licensing Service
Luton Borough Council Town Hall George Street Luton LU1 2BQ
Tel: 01582 546040

[email protected]


© 2024 Luton Council, Town Hall, Luton LU1 2BQ