AN exotic dance venue in Exeter has applied to renew its licence – putting it on a potential collision course with a new city council policy on sex establishments.
Eden Lounge, at EX4 in Fore Street, has submitted an application for a licence to use the premises as a sex entertainment venue in what could prove to be a test case for the new licensing policy adopted by the council in July.
It is believed to be the first application of its kind since councillors approved the document, which states that the council “has been unable to identify an appropriate locality for either sex entertainment venues or sex cinemas”.
The onus is now on applicants to demonstrate to the council that there is an appropriate locality which has not been previously identified.
The council’s sex establishment policy was drawn up following a public consultation which generated 169 responses.
The majority of respondents felt there were no localities within Exeter that were appropriate for sex entertainment venues. Large majorities also considered that sex establishments were unsuitable near specific types of premises such as schools and places of worship.
In drafting the policy, officers also took account of the council’s draft city centre and culture strategies, which seek to encourage a wider cross-section of the public to visit the area and feel at ease. The authority’s core strategy also aims to enhance retail, cultural and tourist facilities in the city centre.
Minutes of the July meeting state: “In taking these broad strategic aims into account, the council felt that the presence of sex entertainment venues and sex cinemas within the city centre was not compatible with these strategic aims.”
But members of the licensing committee were told they “needed to have an open mind to each application and make an exception from policy when there was cause to do so”.
The council has identified two localities deemed appropriate for a sex shop, namely Fore Street and Sidwell Street, so long as there are no more than one in each street.
The deadline for representations is Monday, September 30, and the council’s licensing committee is expected to consider Eden Lounge’s application in November.