The owner of a Ponsonby apartment next to a primary school says she had no idea her tenants would be running an unlicensed brothel.

The woman received threatening and abusive phone calls after her name and home phone number were printed on a flyer circulated to residents warning of the brothel.

She has since contacted the police and a security firm.

Since late last year Firecats Escorts has been operating from the Brown St apartment in a complex that borders Richmond Rd Primary School.

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The council has opted not to use its powers to shut the brothel while it processes a resource consent application.

The apartment's owner said she did not lease the property out "under its current activities".

When pressed as to whether she would terminate the tenancy, she would not comment except to say she "was going through the appropriate channels".

Brothels are considered "entertainment facilities" and can operate near the school because the area is zoned for mixed business use.

However, because Firecats is within 30m of a residential zone, it is required to apply for consent, which it did late last month.

Yesterday Brown St residents spoken to by the Herald said the brothel had changed activity on the street and called on the council to shut it down.

Scott and Bridget Blanks, who can see the brothel from their front porch, said its customers parked their cars in front of the school as early as 9.30am.

Mr Blanks, the founder-owner of the Classic Comedy Club, was able to joke about the neighbourhood's addition.

"Every suburban street should have a brothel. You don't have a problem getting a good tradesman - you can just leave a note on their windscreens.

"You can get a taxi at the drop of a hat."

He said he was not opposed to brothels but there was a place for them, and that was not in an apartment block next to a primary school and on a mostly residential street.

"I think it's only a two-bedroom apartment ... there appears to occasionally be men waiting in cars and standing on the footpath ... I thought 'God, is there going to be a queue'?"

Another neighbour opposed to Firecats said there had been a brothel operating from the same apartment building about three years ago.

He was unsure if the same apartment had been used.

Principals' Federation president Paul Drummond said there needed to be zoning regulation that would restrict how close brothels could be to schools or preschools.

"Brothels might normally be associated with a night time industry. But modern brothels in communities don't take respect of school bells."

Secondary Principals' Association president Patrick Walsh said in the past year he had spoken to principals from about four schools with brothels nearby.

Mr Walsh said in some cases children had come across used syringes and condoms near schools, necessitating clean-ups by gloved teachers.

Last year a brothel that opened across the street from Henderson Intermediate School shut down after protest from parents and teachers.

But Prostitutes Collective national co-ordinator Catherine Healy said for the most part brothels were understated and did not attract a lot of activity.

"It's fanciful for people to complain about brothels being near schools contributing to offensive behaviour, because you can't even see the behaviour for a start - it's all behind closed doors."

ENTERTAINING
* Firecats Escorts has been operating from an apartment in a complex that borders Richmond Rd Primary School.

* Brothels are considered "entertainment facilities" and can operate near the school because the area is zoned for mixed business use.

* Because Firecats is within 30m of a residential zone, it is required to apply for resource consent.