Not widely reported it appears, but an application for a new SEV in Acton was rejected last week by Ealing Council on grounds of locality. Interesting as the area is non-residential, and the policy for sex establishments in Ealing only identifies Acton Town Centre as suitable for a club, and the residential districts as unsuitable, so not clear how this locality was regarded. It appears that being opposite a ‘family’ leisure centre was the clincher here. The venue obtained an alcohol licence, however.
Havering (Romford) is one of the last adopters of the SEV licensing powers, and has adopted a policy which makes an assumption against award of a licence, apart from in exceptional circumstances. They consulted on this way back in 2011, and received just two responses (suggesting few are especially worried about this issue?) From the policy:
‘The Council has set a limit on the number of sex establishments that it thinks is appropriate for its relevant localities. The Council treats each ward in the borough as a relevant locality. Having regard to its analysis, the Council has determined that the appropriate numbers of sex establishments for each ward is as follows:
Elm Park 0
Emerson park 0
Harold Wood 0
Havering Park 0
Rainham and Wennington 0
Romford Town 0
St Andrews 0
South Hornchurch 0
Squirrels Heath 0
These limits justified with reference to maps of each ward marking sensitive land uses: as always it appears local authorities have to spend a lot of time justifying their policies, which hardly seems necessary given all could simply say ‘each case to be considered on its merits’. Anyway, referring to one of these maps (inset) I can see a number of industrial locations which are well over 1km from any sensitive locations, so not sure how this fits with notion that SEVs are inappropriate in whole of this ward. Of course, the definition of localities needs to be decided in the light of the facts of the case, so the idea that you can conflate localities and wards seems legally unreasonable.
Interestingly, Sex Establishment application fees in the authority are still advertised to be £10,000 on the council webpages, which puts it at the upper end of things (contra Hemming v Westminster), but in the policy these have been lowered to £2000 for SEVs. Presumably these will be bought into line (though that’s not guaranteed).