A review of the Brothels Bylaw 2013 has resulted in some minor amendments being proposed by the Council.

Proposed bylaw amendments

1. Short title and commencement

  1. This Bylaw is the Christchurch City Council Brothels (Location and Commercial Sexual Services Signage) Bylaw 2013
  2. This Bylaw comes into force on 15 April 2013.
  3. This bylaw was amended by the Council on [date], and the amended bylaw came into force on [date].

2. Interpretation

  1. Explanatory notes are not part of the bylaw and the Council may add, amend and delete explanatory notes at any time without amending the bylaw.
    Explanatory note: Explanatory notes are used for a number of reasons, including to explain the intent of a clause in less formal language, to include additional helpful information, or because the information may be subject to change and need to up updated before the bylaw itself has to be updated.
  2. In this bylaw, unless the context otherwise requires,
Brothel means any premises kept or habitually used for the purposes of prostitution; but does not include premises at which accommodation is normally provided on a commercial basis if the prostitution occurs under an  arrangement initiated elsewhere. 
Commercial sexual services

means sexual services that:

  1. involve physical participation by a person in sexual acts with, and for the gratification of, another person; and
  2. are provided for payment or other reward (irrespective of whether the reward is given to the person providing the services or another person). 
Council means the Christchurch City Council
District has the same meaning as defined in section 5 of the Local Government Act 2002, and means the district of the Council.
Early childhood education and care centre means premises used regularly for the education or care of 3 or more children (not being children of the persons providing the education or care, or children enrolled at a school being provided with education or care before or after school) under the age of six:
  1. by the day or part of a day; but
  2. not for any continuous periods of more than seven days. 
 Multi-unit residential complex means two or more residential units situated together on an area of land, whether or not the land is in more than one legal title, and irrespective of the legal ownership of the land as a whole, or of the units.

(Without limiting the interpretation of this term, examples of arrangements that would be defined as a multi-unit residential complex include:

  • a block of flats, whether multi-storey or not, where there are shared walls between the units or garages of the units;
  • a townhouse complex, where the units may be physically separated but there is a shared driveway or paths between the units.)
Premises includes a part of Premises.
Public place
  1. means a place that is open to, or being used by, the public, whether admission is free or on payment of a charge and whether any owner or occupier of the place is lawfully entitled to exclude or eject a person from that place; and
  2. includes any aircraft, hovercraft, ship, ferry, or other vessel, train, or vehicle carrying or available to carry passengers for reward.
Small owner-operated brothel means a brothel:
  1. at which not more than four sex workers work; and
  2. where each of those sex workers retains control over his or her individual earnings from prostitution carried out at the brothel.  
School means a Registered School as defined in the Education Act 1989 (being a primary, intermediate, composite, secondary or special school, and can be either a state school or a private school), and an Early Childhood Education and Care Centre, that is in or borders an area shown on the maps in Schedule 1 at the time this Bylaw comes into force.  
Sign means any sign that is in, or is visible from, a public place, and that advertises commercial sexual services.            

3. Object of the bylaw

The object of this bylaw is to:

  1. restrict the location of brothels to certain parts of the district, with no restriction on the location of small owner-operated brothels,
    1. except that no brothel, including small owner-operated brothels, can be located in a multi-unit residential complex; and
      1. provide for specified existing brothels to remain in their current locations; and
    2. provide for specified existing brothels to remain in their current locations; and
    3. control signage that advertises commercial sexual services, that is in, or is visible from, a public place, on the basis such signs are likely to cause a nuisance or serious offence to members of the public using parts of the district or they are incompatible with the existing character or use of parts of the district, by:
      1. prohibiting signs in certain parts of the Council’s district; and
      2. regulating the display of signs in other parts of the district through the controls in this bylaw. 

 4. Location of brothels

  1. Subject to clause 5, no person may operate, or permit, or allow to be operated, a brothel:
    1. in any part of the district other than within an area shown on the maps in Schedule 1; and
    2. in any building immediately adjacent to an important open space as marked on the Central City map in Schedule 1; and
    3. in any building that is located on a property that shares a boundary with a school; and
    4. in any multi-unit residential complex.

Explanatory note: The maps in Schedule 1 set out the brothels-allowed areas. Brothels can locate in these areas provided they are not on a property sharing a boundary with a school, or in a multi-unit residential complex. A brothel cannot be located next to an important open space area in the central city – these areas are shown on the central city map.

The brothels-allowed areas are based on planning documents from when the bylaw was established in 2012. Areas of industrial and commercial zoned land were assessed during the development of the bylaw in order to separate residential areas and schools from areas where brothels could operate.  The brothels-allowed areas were then further reduced to provide sufficient buffer zones, and as a result of the public consultation process. This was in order to provide better separation of brothels from children and residential activity. For example, where zones adjoined or were close to schools (or preschools), or residential areas, and were not suitably buffered by a major road, the zones were further reduced.  Other parts of some zones were removed when the result of the ‘buffering’ left only small pockets of properties.

The 2012 planning documents on which the maps were based have now been replaced with the Christchurch District Plan.  Although there are differences between the 2012 planning documents and the District Plan, the areas set out as brothel-allowed areas in Schedule 1 remain commercial or industrial zones,

Within the brothels-allowed areas set out in this bylaw, any brothel must also comply with any applicable District Plan requirements.  If a brothel requires a resource consent, it must also undergo an assessment under section 15 of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003. 

5. Small owner-operated brothels

  1. The location restrictions in clauses 4(1)(a),(b) and (c) of this bylaw do not apply to small owner-operated brothels.
  2. No person may operate, or permit, or allow to be operated, a small owner-operated brothel, in any multi-unit residential complex.

Explanatory note: Information about the operation of small owner-operated brothels:

All District Plan requirements relating to ‘home occupation’ activities must be met for any small owner-operated brothel in any residential zone. In summary, a home occupation is undertaken by a person permanently living on-site, and the home occupation activity is secondary in scale to the residential use of the site. Home occupation businesses cannot operate outside of certain hours. All requirements relating to home occupations are set out in the District Plan and should be read before commencing any activity. 

If a small owner-operated brothel does not comply with any applicable District Plan requirements, and requires a resource consent, it must undergo an assessment under section 15 of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003, 

The Unit Titles Act 2010 provides a legal framework for the ownership and management of land held under unit title (residential unit title properties are typically apartment blocks and townhouses). The combination of individual and shared ownership of land and buildings means unit title properties involve a different set of rights and responsibilities to free-standing house and land ownership. A multi-unit residential complex may, alternatively, be held under cross-lease. In any of these situations, there are barriers to operating a business due to the likely impacts on other residents and due to the shared ownership. 

Anyone wanting to operate a business (including a small-owner operated brothel) from a residential rental property should check their agreement and discuss what is allowed with their landlord.

6. Existing brothels

  1. Any premises described in Schedule 2 is exempt from the location controls in clause 4.
  2. The exemption in clause 6(1) does not apply if, after this Bylaw comes into force, the use of the premises as a brothel changes in character or increases in scale or intensity.
  3. Any premises described in Schedule 2, for the purposes of the signage controls in clause 8, must be regarded as premises situated in an area of the district which is shown on a map in Schedule 1. 

7. Prohibition on signage advertising commercial sexual services

  1. No person may display or permit or allow the display of a sign advertising commercial sexual services in any part of the district, other than within an area shown on a map in Schedule 1.
  2. Even within an area shown on a map in Schedule 1, no person may display or permit or allow the display of a sign advertising commercial sexual services in any part of the district if the sign is visible from any point on a school boundary. 

8. Regulation of signage advertising commercial sexual services

  1. A sign advertising commercial sexual services  in any part of an area shown on a map in Schedule 1, that is not in a place subject to clause 6(2):
    1. must be attached to the premises at which the commercial sexual services it advertises are provided; and
    2. must clearly display the number of the premises to which the sign relates; and
    3. must not be offensive; and
    4. must not display any pictorial image; and
    5. must not exceed 0.3 square metres in surface area; and
    6. must not be illuminated by any flashing light.
  2. No person may display, or allow the display, of more than one sign upon any premises at which commercial sexual services are provided, even if those premises have more than one street frontage. 

9. Offence and penalty

  1. Every person who breaches this bylaw commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $20,000, as set out in the Local Government Act 2002. 

10. Christchurch City Council General Bylaw

  1. The provisions of the Christchurch City Council General Bylaw 2008 and any bylaw passed in amendment or substitution are implied into and form part of this Bylaw.

Explanatory note: The Council’s General Bylaw 2008 contains a dispensing power, enabling the Council to grant a dispensation from full compliance with any provision of a bylaw (where the Council considers that full compliance would adversely affect any person or business, without a corresponding benefit to the public or any section of it).  This applies to any aspect of any bylaw, and could, for example, apply to the restriction on a small owner-operated brothel wanting to operate from a multi-unit residential complex.

The initial resolution to make this Bylaw was passed by the Christchurch City Council at a Meeting of the Council held on 24 May 2012 and was confirmed following consideration of submissions received during the special consultative procedure, by a resolution of the Council at a subsequent Meeting of the Council held on 28 March 2013.

Brothels allowed areas (proposed) [PDF, 2.6 MB]

Second schedule

  1. Brothels exempted from the location controls in clause 4, as provided for in clause 5 
    • 464 Worcester Street, Linwood, Christchurch 8011 (Lot 2 DP 12060).
    • 183 Bealey Avenue, Christchurch Central, Christchurch 8013  (Lot 2 DP 10133).

Current bylaw

The Brothels (Location and Commercial Sexual Services Signage) Bylaw 2013 [PDF, 4.5 MB] 

Purpose

  • restricts where operator-run brothels can locate in the city to certain commercial areas
  • limits signage used to advertise commercial sexual services
  • precludes the operation of any brothel type from multi-unit residential complexes

FAQs [PDF, 48 KB] 


Individual area maps included in the Bylaw

As recommended by the Brothels Bylaw Hearings Panel, the Council agreed not to provide for the location of operator-run brothels in Lyttelton, something that drew strong support from the community through submissions.

As well as regulating areas of the city in which operator-run brothels can operate and imposing limits on signage advertising services, the new bylaw precludes the operation of any brothel type from multi-unit residential complexes.

Small owner-operated brothels (SOOBs) that were already located in multi-unit residential complexes were permitted to remain until 31 March 2014 to give those businesses enough time to relocate.


 Background and timeline

Year Date Action
2013 March

The Council further considered the issue of a commercial brothel area in Lyttelton at its 28 March 2013 meeting. Read the Council officer's report as an agenda item.

Christchurch City Council adopts a bylaw that will restrict where operator-run brothels can operate in the city and limit signage used to advertise commercial sexual services.

28 March 2013: Council decides on Brothels Bylaw

2013 February

The Brothels Bylaw Hearings Panel, on 25 February 2013, reconsidered the issue of an area where commercial brothels could set up business in Lyttelton.

It decided to recommend to the Council that no commercial brothel area in Lyttelton should be provided for within the proposed Christchurch City Council Brothels (Location and Commercial Sexual Services Signage) Bylaw 2013. This recommendation does not include small owner-operator brothels (SOOBs).

To read the Hearings Panel’s deliberations and conclusions of 25 February 2013 [PDF, 165 KB] [PDF 164KB] on an area for operator-run brothels in Lyttelton including maps of options.

25 February 2013: Hearings Panel reconfirms recommendation to remove Lyttelton from proposed Brothels Bylaw.

Council minutes - 25 February 2013

2012 December

The Hearings Panel’s recommendation made at its July 2012 meeting went to the full Council for its decision on 6 December 2012. At that meeting the Council did not support the panel’s recommendation to restrict operator run brothels to areas within the four avenues.  Rather the Council indicated a preference for areas in the central city and suburban commercial areas (similar to the proposal but amended following public submissions).

In addition the Council decided to ask the Hearings Panel to reconsidered the issue of an area where commercial brothels could set up business in Lyttelton.

7 December 2012: Council asks for Brothels Bylaw to be revised

Council minutes - 6 December 2012

2012 November

2 November 2012: Hearing panel make a recommendation on proposed Brothels Bylaw

2012 July The Brothels Bylaw Hearings Panel, by a majority decision, has agreed on a recommendation on the proposed Christchurch City Council Brothels (Location and Commercial Sexual Services Signage) Bylaw 2012 that will go to the full Council for its decision.

The Panel’s recommendation to the Council is to restrict the allowable areas permitted for brothels to within the four avenues indicated in the proposed bylaw as amended by: 

a) Applying residential buffers where the proposed brothels areas are adjacent to residential areas.
b) Applying buffers where the proposed brothels areas are located on one side of the road and residential zones on the other side, except where the road is a state highway or a major arterial road.
c)  Applying buffers around schools and early childhood learning centres.
d) Adjusting the brothels area in the Central City to accommodate the Blueprint in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan.

If this recommendation is approved by the full Council it will require a further round of public consultation as this a major departure from the original proposal that was consulted on in June – July 2012.

The proposed Christchurch City Council Brothels(Location and Commercial Sexual Services Signage) Bylaw 2012 is scheduled to go to the full Council for its decision on 6 December.

The Hearings Panel minutes [PDF, 165 KB] 27 July 2012, 11 September 2012, 21 September 2012.

2012 June

11 June 2012: The Brothels Bylaw 2012 public consultation (completed)

In 2009, when the Council consulted on the revocation of the Christchurch City Brothels (Location and Signage) Bylaw 2004, it proposed that there not be a new bylaw to take its place. The Council received many submissions arguing against the revocation. Since then the Council has been reviewing the need for a bylaw.

The Council has decided there is a need for a bylaw as many of the known operator-run brothels were located in the Central City and their business premises are inaccessible or badly damaged following the 2011 earthquakes. These businesses may wish to temporarily or permanently relocate to other parts of the city.

The Christchurch City Council is now proposing to make a new bylaw to regulate the location of brothels and signage advertising commercial sexual services. Currently there are no bylaw controls around where a brothel can set up in the city. This proposed Bylaw will provide controls on where brothels, other than small owner-operator brothels (SOOBs), can operate. This bylaw replaces the Christchurch City Brothels (Location and Signage) Bylaw 2004 which expired on 6 July 2011. View more information on the earlier proposal to revoke the Bylaw.

Read about the submission process [PDF, 109 KB].

Read about the 2012 proposed Brothels Bylaw process [PDF, 107 KB].

2012 May

24 May 2012: Proposed Brothels Bylaw to go to go to consultation

2012 March

22 March 2012:  Brothels Bylaw to be developed

2011 September

22 September 2011: Brothels Bylaw proposed by the Council