Wild West: Knickers in a twist over Armley ‘swingers’ plans


Armley swingers? In our second Wild West comment column we feature a planning application for a new private members club at an industrial estate on Station Way and look at why local residents are getting their knickers in a twist …

WLDP_wild-west-logo-finalProposals to open up a private members’ swingers’ club for over 23s in Armley probably won’t – if you’ll pardon the parlance – go down very well with some people in Armley.

Seems that the plans are for a health club, with alternative therapies, a spa, playroom and “private functions, for example, swingers”.

The application says alcohol won’t be provided but members would be allowed to bring their own.

Opening hours would be 10am-2am weekdays and 3am on Saturdays, although the applicant says it will probably operate four days a week.

The application states:

“The building would be used for events, including hypnotherapy sessions, members only club events for swingers (including events aimed at LGBT groups) and training events.

“We hope to offer our venue for conferencing and training to small companies.

“All events will be conducted in a safe and monitored environment.  The private members’ club would provide a social/meeting space with refreshment facilities and areas for meetings. The main social area would be available for
meetings and social gatherings of members to share common interests, pastimes and hobbies.

“The schedule of meetings and events would be flexible depending on demand and attendance. The private members club would be open four nights per week for members wishing to participate in an adult social and interactive environment.”

It acknowledges that concerns may relate to a potential risk to children and young people in the area and adds:

“This is a serious matter and the best interests of children are a primary consideration but there is little evidence to show that the proposed private club would cause a direct threat to the safety of any children walking to school along the street.

“The business operated in County Durham is opposite a large academy and we have worked with the council to minimise impact. We operate a zero tolerance to drugs, paid sex and hate crimes. This is to protect our customers and staff, to prove a high benchmark in services and to effectively self police our business therefore reducing any impact on public services that are already stretched.

“Staff are there to administer and manage the events. We hold ourselves to high standards and believe that maintaining these principles is important to maintain our reputation in this taboo area.”

We first tweeted about the application last Thursday:

According to a report on page 14 of the YEP today the applicant – a woman – says she has run similar set-ups in Durham and has worked closely with the relevant authorities to ensure everything runs smoothly.
There are already a couple of objections to the development, mainly on the grounds of noise nuisance and concerns about ‘certain clientele’.

Let’s take the issue of ‘certain clientele’ first. We know Armley already has problems with street drinkers and Town Street is plagued by anti-social behaviour. Fair point. And the area could do without the ‘bad PR’ something like this will inevitably generate.

But for me, the issue isn’t just about swingers. What consenting adults get up to behind closed doors out of sight and earshot of the general public is up to them. Just as it is at the Steam Sauna – a gay and bisexual sauna which is also based in Armley.

It wouldn’t suit me, but if it floats their boat to ‘swing’ then that’s up to them.

The main issue for residents is one of noise. 2am and 3am closing times are in the dead of night and noise carries.

One objector writes:

“Although the building for which planning is sought is a light industrial unit, it is part of a very small group of similar units. Apart from these, the area is one of domestic buildings and two large care homes for older people. All the other light industrial units have business that operate within normal business hours and are otherwise quiet. However the proposed Private Members Club would run from 10.00 at night up to 2.00 or 3.00 am. I am concerned about the level of noise and nuisance caused.”

Now, the applicant states that she’s chosen the area for its minimal impact on local residents. But if the development is to be refused it’ll be on the grounds of noise and disruption to neighbouring properties, not because of the nature of the business.

A similar club in Hunslet was granted planning permission last month as there were simply no reasons in planning law (which doesn’t include the ‘morality’ of an application) to refuse it. Planning law does, however, focus on issues like noise and access. We’ll watch this one here at The Dispatch with interest.

The Wild West is a regular opinion and comment column. Views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of West Leeds Dispatch.

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