Urbis Think Tank
Brothels – like funeral parlours – are legitimate and permissible land uses when properly located
Content provided by Roberta Ryan
Many of the projects that Urbis works on are contentious, with differing views between the developer, Council, government, neighbours and other stakeholders. One of the more contentious land uses are sex premises, which are subject to moral objectors in addition to the more typical economic, environmental and broader social impact objections that arise in most land use disputes.
The City of Sydney is one of the most progressive Councils in NSW when it comes to planning for the sex industry. Unlike many of the Councils in NSW, the City of Sydney have developed targeted, detailed planning controls for the range of uses within the sex industry, and this has resulted in a high level of compliance with planning, health and safety controls, as well as improved health outcomes for those who work and participate in the industry.
It is difficult to quantify the number of sex premises operating in a location, given the sometimes covert nature of the industry. The City of Sydney reports that there are 47 compliant brothels in the Local Government Area, and 83 sex industry premises in total. The figure below shows some of the known approved brothels in the City of Sydney.
Like all businesses, from time to time, sex premises may want to expand. When this occurs, what is the result?
Urbis has found that:
- There is not a definitive relationship between the opening and expansion of one of Sydney’s major brothels and any increase in crime.
- There is no proven correlation between decreases in property value and the location of sex premises in an area.
- There is no evidence that anti-social behaviour in inner city areas can be attributed to the clients or staff of sex premises.
So, sex industry premises, much like other contentious uses such as funeral parlours, can cause a level of discomfort for some members of the community. At the same time, the sex industry has a role to play in the social and economic vibrancy of cities and sex premises are a legal and legitimate land use.
Sex industry premises need not be relegated to marginal areas of the city where they will be met with the least objection. The potential discomfort and amenity impacts caused by sex industry premises can be minimised and effectively managed through robust and well-implemented management strategies and adequate planning controls on the part of local governments.