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Sex Establishment Licence Applications

Licence Summary

To run a Sex Establishment in the borough of Colchester you will need a licence from Colchester Borough Council. A 'Sex Establishment' is defined as a sexual entertainment venue, a sex shop or a sex cinema.

A "sexual entertainment venue" means any premises at which relevant entertainment is provided before a live audience for the financial gain of the organiser or the entertainer (an audience can consist of just one person). "Relevant entertainment" is defined as any live performance or any 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 the audience (whether verbally or other means).

A "sex cinema" means any premises, vessel, vehicle or stall used to a significant degree for the exhibition of moving pictures which are concerned primarily with the portrayal of, or primarily deal with or relate to or intending to stimulate or encourage sexual activity or genital organs or excretory functions.

A "sex shop" means any premises, vehicle, vessel or stall used for business which consists to a significant degree of selling, hiring, exchanging, lending, displaying or demonstrating sex articles or other things intended for use in connection with or for stimulating or encouraging sexual activity or acts of force or restraint which are associated with sexual activity.

The Council may, following an application to it requesting such a licence, waive the requirement of a licence if it considers that the grant of a licence would be unreasonable or inappropriate.

Eligibility Criteria

An applicant:

  • must be at least 18 years old
  • must not be disqualified from holding a licence
  • 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


pdf icon Current Licensing Fees and Charges [66kb]

Regulation Summary

A summary of the regulation relating to this licence

Application Evaluation Process

Fees will be payable for applications and conditions may be attached.

Applications must be in writing (including by electronic means - See 'Apply and Pay Online' below) and contain any information the local authority requires, as well as the applicant's name, address and, where the applicant is an individual, their age, plus the address of the premises.

Applications by a limited company or unincorporated body must state the name of the organisation, the address of the registered office and the full names and private addresses of the directors or other persons responsible for its management.

Within 7 days of making the application to the local authority a copy of the application must be sent to the Police.  If the premises is within the Colchester Borough, the Police's copy must be sent to the following address:

Essex Police Licensing, 10 Southway, Colchester, Essex CO3 3BU

or emailed to

If the premises borders other boroughs and/or districts, it is the applicant's responsibility to also serve copies of the application on the relevant Licensing Authorities and Police.

Applicants must give public notice of their application by publishing an advertisement in a local newspaper. An example of a newspaper notice regarding the application for the grant/renewal/variation or transfer of a sex establishment licence can be downloaded by pdf icon clicking here [39kb].

For further information on the application procedure, please read the section below titled 'Apply via post or in person':

    Target  Completion  
   Period and  
  Tacit Consent

In relation to applications for sex establishment licences the Licensing Authority will seek to determine an application within 2 calendar months of the receipt of a properly completed application form and fee. The Council will notify the relevant parties if a determination cannot be made within the specified period but as a result of the Provision of Services Regulations, tacit authorisation does not apply because different arrangements are in place.


There are no specific guidance notes for completing the application other than the information given on this page and on the form. However applicants should read Colchester Borough Council's pdf icon application requirements [19kb] and adopted Licensing Policy for Sex Establishments.

Apply and Pay Online

We are sorry but the facility to make electronic applications is not yet available.  For a pdf version of the application form which can be printed and completed please see the section below titled 'Apply via post or in person':

Tell us about a change to your existing sex establishment licence

      Apply via  
     post or in

An application form for the grant/renewal/transfer/variation of a sex establishment licence, which can be printed and completed is available below in PDF format:

pdf icon Application Form for the Grant/Renewal/Transfer/Variation of a Sex Establishment Licence [80kb]

If you wish to renew your licence and nothing in respect of the licence has changed please complete the form which can be printed and completed and is available below in PDF format.

pdf icon Renewal Application form where no changes made to licence [21kb]

Within 7 days of the date of application, the applicant must advertise the application in a local paper and send a copy of the newspaper advert to the Licensing Authority. Applicants must also ensure that a site notice is displayed on the premises for 21 days from the receipt of application.

To view an example of a newspaper advert and site notice for an application for the grant/renewal/transfer/variation of a sex establishment licence, please pdf icon click here [39kb].

Application forms are also available by contacting us using the details on the top right-hand side of this page.


 If objections are received in the objection period, the applicant will be notified of the substance of them and given a chance to respond.  In reaching any decision on whether to grant the application consideration will be given to the fitness of the applicant and the premises for the grant of such a licence.

Failed Application Redress

Please contact Colchester Borough Council in the first instance.

Any applicant who is refused a licence, or refused the renewal of a licence, may, within 21 days of being notified of the refusal, appeal to the local Magistrates' Court.

However, the right to appeal does not apply where the licence was refused on the grounds that:

  • the number of sex establishments in the area exceeds the number which the authority consider is appropriate
  • the grant of the licence would be inappropriate considering the character of the area, the nature of other premises in the area, or the premises themselves

Please Note: There is no right of appeal if the licence was refused because the application failed to meet the eligibility criteria.


Please contact Colchester Borough Council in the first instance.

A licence holder who wishes to appeal against a condition can appeal to a local Magistrates' Court.

Consumer Complaint

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you - preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK, Consumer rights - GOV.UK will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

Licence holders may at any time apply to the authority for a variation of the terms, conditions or restrictions in their licence.

If an application for a variation is refused, or if the licence is revoked, the licence holder may, within 21 days of being notified of the imposition of, or the refusal to vary, the term, condition or restriction in question, or of the revocation, appeal to the local Magistrates' Court.

A licence holder may also appeal to the Crown Court against a decision of a Magistrates' Court.

Other Redress

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