Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Public get chance to speak out on CBD brothel

John Chow and Michael Chow. Photo / Paul Estcourt
John Chow and Michael Chow. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Plans for Auckland's first high-rise brothel will move a step closer this month when Wellington's Chow brothers face those opposed to the plan.

Heather Harris, Auckland Council's resource consents manager, said a public hearing on the proposal was scheduled for Monday, November 12, and the next day. John and Michael Chow want to develop 75 Victoria St, opposite the Sky Tower.

The heritage Aurora Hotel that used to occupy the land was destabilised by work they did, resulting in the council ordering its immediate demolition. It never prosecuted them.

An in-house council report declared "structural failure on this scale is almost unheard of in New Zealand" but claimed there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

But the council publicly notified The Chows' application for the huge new brothel because of what it deemed special circumstances. That resulted in 221 submissions being made, of which only one was in conditional support.

Opponents include Catholic Bishop Patrick Dunn, heritage advocate Allan Matson and SkyCity.

Heather Harris described why the case was going before the public.

"The proposal is for a building of 15 storeys, including a basement. The building will contain restaurants, bars, nightclubs, a brothel occupying 1.5 storeys, hotel and offices.

"A resource consent is required because of the construction of the building, the hotel activity, various traffic and parking matters and because the site is noted as containing a scheduled item. Overall, it is a restricted discretionary activity under the plan," she said.

The Chows' planner, Green Group's Martin Green, is arguing strongly for the tower to be allowed because it mostly complies. The only major aspect which is non-complying is the short-stay accommodation, a discretionary activity on that site, therefore up to the council to make a call.

•The public hearing will be in the Auckland Town Hall reception lounge on November 12 and 13.

- NZ Herald

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