High-rise city brothel granted resource consent

John Chow and his brother Michael Chow plan to turn the old Palace Hotel site on the corner of Federal St and Victoria St in the Auckland CBD into a high-rise brothel. Photo / Paul Estcourt
John Chow and his brother Michael Chow plan to turn the old Palace Hotel site on the corner of Federal St and Victoria St in the Auckland CBD into a high-rise brothel. Photo / Paul Estcourt

The Chow brothers have received permission for a controversial 15-storey entertainment complex including a brothel in central Auckland.

Four independent hearing commissioners appointed by the Auckland Council, approved a resource consent application by PHVS Project Limited for a building containing a hotel, entertainment and office space at 75 Victoria Street West.

Brothel activities would be located over 1.5 floors, with 13 brothel rooms on the third floor and a brothel entertainment area on the ground mezzanine.

In their report, released today, the commissioners said they recognised the "depth of feeling'' expressed against the brothel - of the 221 submissions lodged in relation to the application, more than 200 objected.

But they concluded: ''... the activity of a brothel is a permitted activity on this site under the Resource Management Act 1991 and the relevant provisions of the District Plan.

As a permitted activity, a resource consent is not required for it.

''... the proposal to establish a brothel on the site does not come within the scope of any of the discretions which the council has reserved to itself ... and we therefore cannot refuse consent to any of those aspects of the application on the ground that they are associated with a proposed brothel.''

Stop Demand Foundation founder Denise Ritchie said the decision was "disappointing but not surprising''.

"I'll tell you who you can put this outcome directly back to is the 60 MPs, mostly from Labour and the Greens, who voted to decriminalise and therefore normalise prostitution. We say it's a simple case of you reap what you sow.

"There will be acts of violence, including sexual violence, against some of the young women who work in this building. We don't think that's an acceptable outcome.''

Auckland Catholic Diocese spokeswoman Lyndsay Freer said the process of considering the resource consent was "flawed'' because the commissioners didn't have a choice but to grant it.

"It's most disappointing that in view of what they [Auckland Council] have done to beautify the city that they've allowed the process to take place the way it has.''

The main reason the church opposed the development was because of its close proximity to St Patrick's Cathedral.

"Auckland Council over the last few years has spent very large sums of money beautifying this part of Auckland, making it family-friendly and a lovely place for people to have their lunch. To go and do this they're actually inviting a whole different character into the city.''

- APNZ

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