The sex industry is expanding in central Auckland, with approval yesterday for the Chow brothers to build a 15-storey brothel and hotel building.
The venture brings to 10 the number of brothels in the central city, including two others in the same vicinity of the SkyCity casino.
Despite more than 200 objections to the use of the building, including it being labelled a "mega-brothel" by the Stop Demand Foundation, four independent commissioners said the law permitted a brothel on the site.
The commissioners accepted a basis for genuine concern, but said these should be raised with the Auckland Council through the new unitary plan and bylaw processes.
"We cannot address them here," said the commissioners, headed by barrister David Kirkpatrick.
The decision to give approval to a "sex hotel" was lambasted by Family First New Zealand, which said it would open the floodgates to other similar red-light developments.
National director Bob McCroskie was disappointed with Mayor Len Brown for not honouring an election commitment to give local communities a say on the location of brothels.
The commissioners accepted Auckland Council planners' recommendation for the building based on brothel activities being located over 1.5 floors, with 13 rooms on the third floor and a brothel entertainment area on the ground mezzanine.
A hearing last month was told there would be four levels of hotel rooms, floors of offices and a bar on the 11th and 12th floors.
The building will have a two-storey-high media screen at the third and fourth levels above the street fronting Victoria and Federal Sts, which the commissioners said could not have any words, numbers or text, direct photographic imagery, moving or flashing lights, or sound.
They dismissed suggestions that the consent should be declined to impose a de facto moratorium on development of the site as punishment for the loss of the Palace Hotel, formerly the 124-year-old Aurora Tavern, which started to collapse during renovation in 2010 before the council ordered its demolition.
"We have no power to do that," the commissioners' decision said.
Mayor Brown said he was disappointed a landowner would end up advantaged by a situation that should never have been allowed to happen.
He said many Aucklanders would not agree with the use of the replacement building.By Bernard Orsman @BernardOrsman Email Bernard