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Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Public able to comment on high-rise brothel

Brothers John (left) and Michael Chow on the Auckland CBD site of the old Palace Hotel. 
Photo / Paul Estcourt
Brothers John (left) and Michael Chow on the Auckland CBD site of the old Palace Hotel. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Controversial plans for New Zealand's first high-rise tower brothel on the site of a historic hotel got a rough ride through Auckland Council yesterday, resulting in the public being able to object.

Wellington's John and Michael Chow wanted to keep official processing of their 15-level brothel out of the public arena so no one could object.

But councillor Cameron Brewer said plans for the block, to be built at the intersection of Federal St and Victoria St West, were out for full public comment and he expects a strong level of interest.

The Chows' plans do not entirely comply with council rules, yet via their planner Martin Green of Green Group they sought to have the public locked out of any approval process.

"In our opinion, the correct approach to the matter of notification in this case is that the application not be processed as a notified resource consent application," Mr Green's brothel application to the council said.

"It is requested that the application be processed without notice."

But Mr Brewer said public interest in the project was so high that he sought to have the plans put out for full public comment and he had legal advice that the decision would stand up if a judicial challenge was mounted.

"Good news. The proposed brothel opposite SkyCity which will replace the former Palace Hotel is to be publicly notified," he said.

"I moved a motion in the hearings committee this morning to that effect and spoke of the significant public interest and the need for residents and neighbouring businesses to have their say.

"The decision around notification was to be made by an independent commissioner but that decision has now been made by elected representatives and two members of the Maori Statutory Board."

The Chows' application does not meet all council rules: short-stay accommodation is a non-complying activity and deemed discretionary on this site at 75 Victoria St West.

When the brothel plans, designed by Clark Brown Architects, emerged last month they drew opposition from Waitemata Local Board member and planner Christopher Dempsey, Auckland's Catholic leader Bishop Pat Dunn, heritage advocate Allan Matson and SkyCity Entertainment Group general counsel Peter Treacy.

Mr Brewer said yesterday his move was not based on any moral objections.

"The motion was that the public be given an opportunity, given the unique nature and the fact that this was a former heritage site," he said. "There was unanimous backing."

Feedback

Direct public feedback on the brothel to Resource Consents, Auckland Council, Private Bag 92300, Auckland or online at the resource consent section of www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

- NZ Herald

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