To run a sex shop, sex cinema or sex encounter establishment in Sutton you will need a licence from us. This will be issued under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 (c. 30)

Sexual entertainment venues (SEVs) are a category of sex establishments that provide relevant entertainment. This category was introduced in the Policing and Crime 2009 Act (2009 Act).

There are four categories of sex establishments:

  • sex shops
  • sex cinemas
  • sexual entertainment venues
  • hostess bars

Sex shops

Can sell, hire, exchange, lend display or demonstrate sex articles or other things that are intended for use in connection with, or for the purpose of stimulating or encouraging sexual activity or acts of force or restraint which are associated with sexual activity.

Sex cinemas

Can show films that are primarily for the portrayal of sexual activity or acts of force or restraint which are associated with sexual activity with the intention of sexually stimulating customers.

Sexual Entertainment Venues (SEVs)

Can provide sexual entertainment (e.g. lap dancing, peep show, live sex show, strip show, etc.) to a live audience for financial gain of the organiser or the entertainer.

Hostess bars

Provide companionship for customers and premises that give the impression that a sexual performance, service, etc. is available.

Who can apply

An applicant for a sex establishment licence: 

  • must be at least 18 years old
  • must not be disqualified from holding a licence
  • must have been resident in the UK at least six months immediately before the application
    • 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 

How to apply

The Council expects and encourages those engaged or wishing to engage in operating a sex establishment premises to carefully consider how they operate and how what they do may affect residents and businesses.

Before you make an application you should read our read our Sex Establishments Policy.

Download application form

Post your completed form to:

Licensing Team
London Borough of Sutton
Civic Offices
St Nicholas Way

You should keep a copy of the completed form for your own records.

There is a fee for sex establishment premises licences. You can pay online or over the phone by calling 020 8770 5000. 

Application evaluation process

All applications must be advertised in the local press.

In addition, where the application is in respect of premises, a notice must be displayed outside the premises for 21 days. A copy of the application must also be sent to the Metropolitan Police no later than seven days after the application is made. 


Any person objecting to an application for the grant, renewal or transfer of a licence may give written notice of their objection to us. This should include the grounds of the objection, within 28 days of the date of the application. 

All applications for the grant or renewal of a licence will be considered by our Regulatory Licensing Committee.

An application can only be refused on the following grounds: 

  1. that the applicant is unsuitable to hold the licence by reason of having been convicted of an offence or for any other reason.
  2. that if the licence were to be granted, the business to which it relates would be managed by or carried on for the benefit of a person, other than the applicant, who would be refused the grant of such a licence if they made the application themselves
  3. that the number of sex establishments in the relevant locality at the time the application is made is equal to or exceeds the number which we consider is appropriate for the locality
  4. the grant of the licence would be inappropriate, having regard to the character of the relevant locality; or to the use which any premises in the vicinity are put; or to the layout, character or condition of the premises in respect of which the application is made. 

We may impose terms, conditions and restrictions in addition to the standard conditions contained within our policy when granting or renewing a licence

Duration of licence

Sex establishment licences last for 12 months. You must apply to renew your licence at least 6 weeks before it is due to expire.


If you have a concern or complaint about a sex establishment, contact the Licensing Team.