Behind a drab exterior lies what will soon be one of the largest brothels in Australia – and it’s just a stone’s throw away, write Laura Hanlon and Zoe Morse.
Local residents have mixed feelings about Stiletto, the dark-grey building lining Parramatta Road in Camperdown.
Stiletto is set to become one of Australia’s largest brothels, after a Sydney court ruled in favour of a $12 million development in June this year.
But if you thought locals would be throwing their arms up in ‘think of the children’ style protest, you wouldn’t be entirely correct.
The nondescript building with discreet signage may be inconspicuous on the surface, but the recent planning green light means Stiletto will be hard to miss.
The brothel negotiated a compromise with the Land and Environment Court after the City of Sydney Council rejected an original application for expansion.
Sydney Councillor Shayne Mallard says the decision will turn the bordello into the ‘Westfield of Brothels’.
The developer, Artazan Property Group, plans to add a three-storey building with underground parking next to the existing site. These extensions will double business to 40 working rooms, allowing entry for 60 patrons at a time.
Against any remaining sensitivity to the sex-work industry, some locals see the expansion as a boon for their area. “The amount of security and cameras used for the building actually make me feel a lot safer,” said nearby resident Natalie.
Mr Gary Keeling, who operates business Fine Furniture Clearance nearby, says the expansion comes at no consequence to him. His business wouldn’t stay much longer, he said. Student accommodation will replace his premises in the coming months.
But Sydney City Council still received 80 submissions opposing the brothel expansion, showing many aren’t in harmony with the sex trade. Nearby residents raised concerns about parking, safety, noise and property values. The council opposed the expansion before Artazan’s appeal to the Land and Environment Court saw their ruling overturned.
Land and Environment Court Commissioner Susan O’Neill defended her decision and the legality of the expansion.
“As a sex premises is a legal land use and permissible in the Mixed Use Zone with consent, moral objections to the proposal are not relevant considerations,” she said.
The City of Sydney defended the decision, after the proposal was amended.
“The decision by the Land and Environment Court to restrict capacity of the Camperdown brothel, Stiletto, to 60 patrons at any one time is a victory for common sense,” a spokesperson told Honi Soit.
This was amended from the business seeking approval for housing a maximum of 160 people (including 50 staff) at any one time.
The council said this would have had serious impacts on residents, including traffic noise and parking chaos.
Despite decriminalisation in 1995, lingering taboos surrounding NSW brothels and their locations still exist. The planning nod is a victory for the sex industry over looming regulation. The NSW Government is proposing to introduce a licensing model for prostitution similar to the divisive 2011 Western Australian Prostitution Bill. However, this goes against the direct concerns of the Sydney-based Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP), and the industry’s wariness of records and police registers.
SWOP General Manager, Mr Lance Schema, said such schemes would be harmful to the industry, returning them to the clandestine through costly licensing systems.
“[These proposals] potentially [push] many brothels back into the black market and wiping away the health and safety gains made over the last 15 years,” he said.
Unlike friendly Ramsay Street, our newest neighbours are keeping to themselves, with Stiletto management stating: “We have no conflict, contact, or relations with the University of Sydney.”
Been to Stiletto? email@example.com