"Hardly anyone turned up because of the potential social stigma attached to being seen there."Featured comment
A resource consent hearing for the Chow Brothers controversial brothel development has been under way at Auckland town hall.
John and Michael Chow plan to build a 15-storey tower on the former Palace Hotel site opposite Sky City. The tower will hold offices, bars, a brothel and hotel.
About 20 submissions are scheduled to be heard today and tomorrow.
Chow brothers lawyer Russell Bartlett, told NBR ONLINE the hearing was likely to wrap up earlier than expected because submitters had likely taken legal advice and realised they couldn’t make a case.
Representatives from Sir Robert Jones’ company, Robt Jones Holdings, said they would not attend.
Sir Robert owns the adjoining building and has been public in his opposition to the construction. However, his representatives instead tabled a letter outlining their opposition.
Last week Auckland Council senior planner Jennifer Valentine released a report recommending resource consent be granted, saying she could not take into account the morality of activities which took place inside.
Panel chairman David Kirkpatrick said the panel, including Rebecca Skidmore, Justine Bray and Bill Smith, had read the report but were not bound or beholden by it.
Ten late submissions were considered but Mr Kirkpatrick says only one, from the Stop Demand Foundation, would be heard.
Mr Bartlett’s written submissions do not discuss the use of the hotel as a brothel, which make up the bulk of the objecting submissions.
When questioned by the panel on the role of the Prostitution Reform Act, Mr Bartlett said he was unaware of any brothels in the city which have required resource consent.
“It is my clear view that focusing on the central area with different provisions for the suburbs the council has created a system of incentives for brothels favouring the central area and this site amongst them.”
Evidence is to be heard from architect Paul Brown, acoustic expert Nevil Hegley, urban design specialist Rachel de Lambert, traffic expert David Phillip and planner Martin Green.
Tomorrow's submitters include representatives from Family First New Zealand, heritage campaigner Allan Matson and AA insurance.
A decision is expected in about two weeks.