Review of the Policy on the Licensing of Sex Establishments

Closed 9 Feb 2024

Opened 15 Dec 2023


We want to hear your opinions on our policy on the licensing of Sex Establishments in the borough.

The Council is updating its licensing policy, which sets out how we regulate and licence businesses that wish to operate as:

  • sex shops - where a large part of items sold are of a sexually explicit nature

  • sex cinemas - where the films shown are classified as restricted to over-18s (R18), and

  • sexual entertainment venues - where the premises offer lap dancing, pole dancing, table dancing, strip shows, peep shows, and similar. 

The draft policy sets out the Council’s approach to regulating sex establishments and the procedure that it will adopt in relation to applications for a licence. The Policy is intended as a guide to applicants, licence holders, and people who want to comment on applications; and to members of the Licensing Committee who are responsible for determining applications that have received objections. It also aims to guide and reassure the public and other public authorities, ensuring transparency and consistency in decision-making.

There are currently no licensed sex establishments in the Borough of Sutton and this Policy, if adopted, would therefore apply to any new applications received.

It is good practice to review policies to ensure the Council maintains an open and transparent process. Sutton Council is an accredited organisation with the White Ribbon campaign which seeks to engage men and boys to end violence against women and girls. As part of our White Ribbon action plan, we have committed to review the Council's sex establishments policy.

We are now seeking your views on a new draft policy. 

Proposed changes to the policy

The original policy was adopted in 2012 and has not been amended since. The major change to this draft Licensing Policy is the bringing in of standard conditions as an annex to the policy itself. There have also been significant changes to the layout and language used within the document. 

The draft policy can be found here

Why your views matter

The Sex Establishment Policy helps to deliver the ‘strong and fair economic growth’ priorities in the Council's Corporate Plan - Ambitious for Sutton - by helping to maintain town and district centres as a safe place to be and ensuring that licensable activity is safe, inclusive, and controlled. 

The role of the Council is to administer the licensing regime in accordance with the law and as set out in government (Home Office) guidance. The Council recognises that Parliament has made it lawful to operate a sex establishments and such businesses are a legitimate part of the retail and leisure industries. However, we know that some aspects of the licensed economy can have negative impacts for the wider community and environment. 


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