Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Hearing on plan for city brothel begins today

Hearings begin today on the proposed high-rise 15 storey brothel to be built by the Chow Brothers on the site of the old Palace Hotel
Hearings begin today on the proposed high-rise 15 storey brothel to be built by the Chow Brothers on the site of the old Palace Hotel

Arguments over plans for a high-rise brothel in the centre of Auckland will be heard today.

Four commissioners will hear submissions on the resource consent application for the 15-storey brothel on Victoria St West.

About 20 submitters are expected to speak, as well as those behind the application.

The Chow brothers' proposal is for a tower including restaurants, bars, nightclubs, a brothel, hotel and offices.

Monsignor David Tonks, pastoral assistant to Catholic Bishop Patrick Dunn, warned in his submission that the building could increase crime in the area, particularly murders. He believes that new brothels should be limited to existing red light areas such as Karangahape Rd and Fort St.

But Auckland Council lead senior planner Jennifer Valentine said because activities within the tower were permitted, she could not consider "moral or religious objections, nor potential increases in illegal activities such as crime and drug use".

She acknowledged that of the 221 submissions opposing the development, 208 were because it would be a brothel.

Monsignor Tonks said the building's height indicated a quantity of commercial sex intended far in excess of any other Auckland brothels.

"The proposed brothel would encourage the expansion of the sex industry, which I believe is not in accord with the intentions of the Prostitute Reform Act," which, he said, aimed to decriminalise prostitution, and to create a framework that safeguards the human rights of sex workers and prohibits them from exploitation and promotes the welfare, occupational health and safety of sex workers.

"Few parents would encourage their children to sell or buy sex, because they consider such activity humanly demeaning. They would, therefore, prefer places where sex is sold to be restricted to less prominent areas than Victoria St. Aucklanders are proud to show visitors the Sky Tower. Most would consider an adjacent brothel to say the wrong things about the values we hold dear," he said in his submission.

Catherine Healy of the Prostitutes' Collective said it had made no submission but hoped the building would rise.

"We understand there's been a lot of opposition in respect of this brothel and we're disappointed in that kind of opposition. It's unfortunate people make it so difficult for sex workers to find places to work and we're very appreciative there will be another venue for workers," she said.

The hearing is expected to wrap up tomorrow but could go into a third day. A decision is expected about three weeks after the hearing.

- NZ Herald

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