A strip club in Shoreditch is seeking to renew its licence under Hackney’s controversial ‘nil’ policy that sought to purge the borough of ‘sex establishments’.
Browns in Hackney Road is one of the few venues of its kind allowed since the council effectively banned strip clubs, sex cinemas and sex shops in 2011.
Its application will be judged according to the sex establishment licensing policy, which also applies to the few venues that already existed when the rules were brought in.
Browns has had every annual licence renewal approved since the policy was introduced.
But the policy states the council could refuse the application even if there have been no changes to the nature of neighbouring business or the surrounding area.
It says: “The council, in applying its decision-making discretion, may consider it appropriate to refuse the renewal of the licence even where there has been no change in the character of the relevant locality or in the use to which any premises in the locality are put.”
Of the 2,700 residents who answered a questionnaire in 2010, 68 per cent were against a ‘nil’ policy for sex cinemas, 78 per cent for sex shops and 67 per cent for strip clubs. For people living near the five venues that then existed the numbers were even higher.
Conditions placed on existing venues by the policy include not being “functionally visible” to passers by on retail high streets and pedestrian walks, with the venues instead on basement level, or with main entrances away from these walkways.
The council introduced the policy to help combat the impact of some venues on noise levels and crime, including prostitution.
The policy asserts that because of sex establishments’ “association with part of the ‘sex industry’ and adult entertainment”, they are “not suitable” for “those parts of the borough associated with commerce, family retail and entrepreneurship, nor are they appropriate for location in residential areas or areas frequented by families and children”.