There were concerns about “being heckled by various different drunken men”
Plans to develop a two-floor lapdancing club in the middle of the historic Corn Exchange quarter have evoked a panoply of objections from local families.
The proposed club, The Black Orchid, would run from the building that was previously called the Townhouse, and later Chilliwhites.
At a licensing meeting yesterday on the 14th March at Leeds Civic Hall, there were 77 complaints from both families and local businesses who are concerned about the impact the club will have on the historic element of the city centre.
A number of voices were heard at the meeting, and one of them was local resident Craig Burton who said that the main concern was that a new club on Assembly Street would be a “stumble in” spot with all of the risks associated with alcohol.
“I am concerned as a resident, I am not a NIMBY at all,” he told the meeting. “We appreciate these venues have a use. But we are in fear of turning the area into a Soho. We do not want to be Soho.” He argued that the area was “ripe” for regeneration and placing a huge sex club at its centre would put those hopes “in jeopardy”.
Another Crown Street resident Lauren Saunby stated that as a young woman, she would “feel unsafe” if the sex club licence was granted and that she “would be a prisoner in my own home.”
Her neighbour Sarah Horton added that she was afraid of “being heckled by various different drunken men” when she is coming and going from the nearby PureGym in the evenings.
Another objector, Bryan Smith, said: “This needs to be a special application, and it isn’t. It’s in the most historic part of Leeds. It’s also at the side of the Corn Exchange, one of our few Grade One listed buildings. We have all sorts of other buildings round it. The operator to me does not have a plausible case for it. He doesn’t get what he can do to enhance Assembly Street and Leeds. It’s culturally naive about Leeds.”
A solicitor representing Purple Door, another Leeds lapdancing club, Richard Arnot, stated that although his client would be perceived as a “trade objector” and business rival, the firm had sincere concerns about the impact of the proposed new venue’s proximity to important historical buildings.
Philip Kolvin, barrister for Aaron Mellor, who will manage the Black Orchid, told the congregation that the owner of the company was investing £1million of his own money into the area and would be creating 30 jobs. The “ultimate hope” was to help “reactivate” the area around Assembly Street as a new food and drink quarter for Leeds, Mr Kolvin explained, and the company would like to “reanimate what appears to be an under-invested small corner of Leeds”.