City News

Pyrmont brothel banished

Councillor Edward Mandla outside the rejected brothel site in Pyrmont. Photo: Chris Peken

Pyrmont residents and office workers are applauding the City of Sydney’s decision to refuse a proposed brothel at 200 Harris St.

The building’s rear entrance, on Paternoster Row near the Quarrymans Hotel, is only three doors from an existing brothel and 80 metres from a childcare centre.

Liberal councillor Edward Mandla said the addition of a brothel into the Pyrmont area was inappropriate and did not meet the definition of “adaptive creative reuse” of land.

“Pyrmont is a great place to live and has undergone incredible change in the last 10 to 15 years,” Mr Mandla said.

“These people have enough to deal with in this modern world without the additional headache of a brothel on their doorstep.”

Mr Mandla said sex-on-premises venues should be relegated to non-residential areas.

“In our modern city, which is now filled with families and close communities, we need to drive brothels to industrial warehouse areas and to the upper floors of high-rise commercial buildings.”

Mr Mandla also said local planning controls are enabling the development of brothels.

“With our current planning instruments, they will come here again and again and again.”

Greens councillor Irene Doutney supported the motion against the brothel, but expressed concern “about commentary accompanying it”. She told council she had grown up next door to a sex-on-premises venue and never had a problem with its staff or clients.

“I thought they were movie stars,” she said.

Jill McKay, who works at the film production company next door to 200 Harris St, told the Bondi View local businesses were already suffering because of the proposed brothel.

“We’re actually moving which is really sad. It’s because of that we sold our building,” Ms McKay said.

“[It] was having a flow on effect, all these empty spaces. The café owners have reported a real downsize in trade. You know, people were getting really nervous about it.”

Jean Stuart, President of the Pyrmont Community Group, welcomed the recommendation and blamed the brothel proposal for rising vacancies nearby.

“We’re delighted that councillors are listening to the community in this instance,” she said.

“[The proposal for the brothel] affects the letting potential for the other vacant properties nearby. The real estate agent said he’s having trouble letting them.”

But Rob Wills, director of Property Asset Consultancy, said there could be other factors at play in the decline of the strip.

“Harris Street has been up and down for years. I can’t recall anything on Harris St that’s been overly warranted to go to for a long time,” Mr Wills said.

“So it’s hard to see whether that’s sort of the new excuse or what are the other underlying reasons why Harris St is not working. Maybe it doesn’t work because it’s inappropriate use,” he said.

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