As some of you may know, Soho Books current located at 11 Caledonian Road is a "Licensed Sex Shop" as well as being a bookstore. They were granted this license several years ago, with the Condition that they could only advertise this on the inside of their premises, i.e. no red neon signs in the window.
Recently the Bulletin Board was alerted by Andrew L. about a new application posted in the window. We originally wrote to Trading Standards who used to deal with these matters but were advised that they are now being handled by the Licensing Department.
Eventually we did get a response explaining what was going on so we thought it appropriate to pass it on. My main concern was that any existing Conditions would remain in effect. The following is from Terrie Lane of Licensing:
…this application is for a renewal of a sex establishment licence, therefore the existing conditions remain on the licence.
So far so good. But I did get more from the actual Licensing Officer handling the application(Katie.Tomashevski@islington.gov.uk). Again for further clarification from Licensing:
I carried out an annual inspection of the premises with Building Control on Tuesday 24 February 2009.
1. Advertising – I have attached a copy of the Council’s Standard Conditions for Sex Shops. Further to the Standard Conditions the licence has two special conditions relating to advertising. They are:
Special Condition 25 “The Shop front, including entrance doors and window displays be retained in their present Glazed open aspect and used for display purposes of non-adult merchandise, the “general goods” area to be located on the ground floor of the shop; and the “general goods” and “adult” areas to be clearly defined.”
Special Condition 26 “That no neon or similar lighting be installed on the premises.”
There is no specific ban on advertising the premises as a sex shop beyond not using neon signs. I can confirm that from the outside of both 9 and 11 Caledonian Road there is nothing visible to advertise the sex shop in the basement of 9 Caledonian Road. There is a sign that says DVDs are in the basement but it does not state what type of DVDs are available. Outside the premises are two signs for “Soho Books”.
Standard Condition 10 requires that the premises have a sign at the entrance warning prospective customers that the premises they are about to enter is a sex shop. I can confirm that this notice is displayed at the top of the stairs leading to the basement of 9 Caledonian Road where the sex shop is located.
Special Condition 25specifically states that non-adult merchandise can be displayed in the windows. I interpret non-adult merchandise to mean “sex articles” as defined in Standard Condition 1. I can confirm that only general goods are displayed in the shop window of 11 Caledonian Road.
2. Layout of Premises – The licensed sex shop is located in the basement of 9 Caledonian Road. The entrance to the sex shop is now through the ground floor of 11 Caledonian Road. I understand that the sex shop was previously located on an elevated floor at the back of 9 Caledonian Road with the entrance to it from the ground floor of the same address. I have been told that with the old layout part of the sex shop was visible from the pavement. With the current placement of the sex shop in the basement of 9 Caledonian Road and the entrance to it from the ground floor of 11 Caledonian Road no part of the shop is visible from the pavement. The Council is satisfied with this arrangement.
I hope I have answered your questions. If there is anything further I can help you with please do not hesitate to contact me.
London Borough of Islington
Alternative contact: Terrie Lane 0207-527-3233
So given the above report all seems to be under control. The Applicant will have his Sex Shop License, and the local residents and nearby traders will continue to have a nice, neutral shopfront that in no way will detract from the surrounding shops, or reinforce the past reputation of King's Cross that we all want to consign to the dustbin!
If you have other points that you feel should be made to Licensing, please contact the officer above.