Home-based brothels in residential areas of Tauranga will largely be treated the same as other home businesses under incoming council rules.

The final draft of Tauranga City Council's draft Prostitution Bylaw 2019 was signed off by the committee today. Full council approval is the final step.

Many changes from the bylaw's 2008 version were to bring the city's rules in line with the Government's Prostitution Reform Act of 2003.

As some councillors put it: they were changes they had to make.

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This included removing a requirement that forced all brothel owners with more than one worker to obtain a "premises consent" from the council to operate.

Home-based brothels in Tauranga - known as single owner-operated brothels in the bylaw - and larger sex work businesses will still have to comply with specific restrictions on signage and location.

They cannot set up within 100m of schools - including early childhood centres - and places of worship, and cannot use large signs with flashing lights or neon.

They will also have to follow rules that apply to all home businesses in the city including noise and parking restrictions.

People can make complaints about breaches of those restrictions, which council can follow up.

Brothels with five or more workers are allowed inside the zone marked with a red line in the CBD. Graphic / Tauranga City Council
Brothels with five or more workers are allowed inside the zone marked with a red line in the CBD. Graphic / Tauranga City Council

Sex work businesses with five or more workers - including brothels, strip clubs and massage parlours - will still be limited to commercial and industrial zones in Tauranga, Te Maunga, Mount Maunganui, Greerton and Judea.

Single owner-operated brothels, which can have up to four workers, will be exempt from the location restriction.

A proposal by some councillors early in the bylaw review process to limit the number of sex workers who could operate in a home to one did not make it into the final draft of the bylaw.

The council chose not to go down the route of some other councils, including Wellington and Auckland, that have removed their prostitution bylaws in favour of more general legislation.

The bylaw comes into force on July 1.