Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Prostitution law concerns rejected

Resource consent hearing need not consider sex activities, which district plan permits, lawyer says.

John Chow (left) and brother Michael are seeking consent for a 15-storey building. Photo / Paul Estcourt
John Chow (left) and brother Michael are seeking consent for a 15-storey building. Photo / Paul Estcourt

A suggestion that prostitution law should be considered in granting resource consent for a brothel and hotel building in the Auckland CBD was strongly disputed at a hearing yesterday.

Auckland Council's planning report on the consent bid by the Chow Brothers said the proposed brothel and commercial sex premises activity were both legal, provided they complied with the Prostitution Law Reform Act and any other relevant council legislation.

The act says consideration must be given to whether the business of prostitution is likely to cause a nuisance or serious offence or is incompatible with the existing use or character of the area.

"Whilst the moral grounds of an activity such as a brothel are irrelevant to the resource consent process, the location of the activity is still something that should be considered when looking at potential effects on people under the Resource Management Act and the Prostitution Reform Act."

The city centre has nine licensed brothels, including 97-99 Victoria St West and 84 Wellesley St, which are near the proposed 15-storey building with the brothel on two floors and the rear part of the ground mezzanine for entertainment.

The activities in the building have drawn opposition from neighbouring building owners, including Robt Jones Holdings.

The matter was raised at the consent hearing yesterday by panel chairman and experienced lawyer David Kirkpatrick.

He asked lawyer for the applicants Russell Bartlett for his view.

Mr Bartlett said "the B word" was not used anywhere in the application, because it was not an application for a brothel as a land use.

Instead, it sought consent for a hotel, which was classed as non-permanent accommodation and did not have permitted activity status in the district plan.

"We are not asking the panel to revisit council's decision to make [a brothel] a permitted activity in this location, having gone through it on a street-by-street basis ... in the CBD.

"It's pretty clear that provisions of the district plan completely lock in, given it's a permitted activity."

He told Mr Kirkpatrick if prostitution law applied then every brothel in the central area would need resource consent.

He was unaware of any brothel in the city that had been required to get one.

In fact, the council had created incentives for brothels in the central area and this site was among them.

The hearing resumes today with 18 submitters due to speak. These include Family First NZ, Stop Demand Foundation and Ministers of Vision & Evangelism.

Chow brothers' brothel
*15 storeys in Auckland CBD.
*Brothel on floors 3 and 4.
*Strip club on floors 1 and 2.
*Hotel on floors 5-8.
*Bar on floors 11 and 12.
*Offices on floors 9 and 10.
*District plan permits brothel under "entertainment and gathering".
*Resource consent needed for hotel activity.

- NZ Herald

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