Sexual entertainment venue licences

Legal services

What is a Sexual Entertainment Venue

Here’s what you need to know about the ‘Sexual Entertainment Venue Licence’

Local authorities in England and Wales can adopt provisions which enable them to regulate entertainment involving nudity, such as table dancing and lap dancing, and require operators to obtain a ‘Sexual Entertainment Venue Licence’.

This licence will be in addition to the existing alcohol and entertainment Premise Licence.

Where a local authority has decided to adopt the provisions then it will fix a number of dates called Appointed Days. These are:

  • 1st Appointed Day: The day on which the ‘Sexual Entertainment Venue Licence’ regime comes into force in a local authority area and the beginning of the transitional period
  • 2nd Appointed Day: The day 6 months after the first Appointed Day
  • 3rd Appointed Day: The day 6 months after the 2nd Appointed Day and the end of the transitional period

Existing operators or new applicants can apply for a Sexual Entertainment Venue Licence.

Existing operators are those who immediately before the 1st Appointed Day, have a Premises Licence granted under the Licensing Act 2003 and lawfully use the premises as a sexual entertainment venue under that licence or are undertaking preparatory work to use the venue in that way.

They will be allowed to continue to provide relevant entertainment until the third Appointed Day or the determination of any application they have submitted before that time, whichever is later.

New Applicants are those who wish to use premises as a sexual entertainment venue after the first Appointed Day but do not already have a premises licence or club premises certificate to act as such under the 2003 Act or do have such a licence but have not taken any steps towards acting as such. After the first Appointed Day new applicants will not be able to operate as a sexual entertainment venue until they have been granted a sexual entertainment venue licence.

No applications shall be determined before the second Appointed Day. After the second Appointed Day the appropriate authority shall decide what if any licences should be granted. If a new applicant is granted a licence it will take effect immediately. If an existing operator is granted a licence it will not take effect until the third Appointed Day, up to which point they will be allowed to continue to operate under their existing premises licence or club premises certificate.

Operators should ensure that their application is submitted within 6 months of the First Appointed date.

All applications lodged within that first 6 months will be considered together at the end of the 6 month period. They will be considered against the council’s policy for such venues which could include limiting the number of venues.

Applications received after the first 6 month period will be considered as and when they are received. If a particular council have allocated a quota, then these could all be taken by applicants in the first 6 months, which means later applications will be refused.

Local authorities can decide upon the conditions that will be attached to venues and can also restrict the number of venues within a particular area.

If a local authority adopts a quota, it may be that not all the applications that have been received within the first 6 months will actually be granted. It is therefore vital that existing lap dancing operators lodge their application within the first 6 month period.