WIGAN’S first commercial sex club has been given the go-ahead.
The private members’ club for wife-swapping “swingers” promises to legally cater to all tastes for consenting adults with themed rooms in a low-key setting.
However, although it has now won Wigan town hall planning permission for use of part of the former Fever disco building in Atherton, applicant Firas Bakir still needs to earn operational approval at the Town Hall’s Licensing Committee later this year, which could prove more difficult.
Council development control manager Graham Dickman told the development committee that the club would be a base for “discreet activities of a sexual nature and would cater for particular desires and particular interests.”
The principle of a private members club under the planning laws was in general deemed an acceptable use within a town centre and he pointed out that it wasn’t the purpose of the regulations they operate under to “engage in moral judgements” of specific activities.
Mr Dickman said: “To be quite clear, what is proposed isn’t a brothel. It is a private members’ club for a particular group of people with particular proclivities.
“Certain activities some people will wish to undertake in a private sense while others will want to undertake them in full view of other individuals.
“Members will be permitted to wander around naked if they so wish to do so and take part in the sexual activity themselves or witness others doing so.”
Applicant Mr Bakir, who gave evidence to the planning committee in person, said that the club would be located within the first floor of the existing building in Atherton’s Market Street.
He claimed the private members’ club wouldn’t cause residents any of the noise and disturbance problems associated with the previous nightclub operation and would be “completely free from crime, disorder or illegal activity.”
If the sex club didn’t win approval, another operator could re-open the night club and see a potential return of the attendant problems.
Greater Manchester Police had no objections, he pointed out.
But ward councillor Pam Stewart raised concerns that the sex club would be near sheltered accommodation and directly opposite a bus stop used by hundreds of teenagers set to use the new vocational college for 14 to 19-year-olds.
She said: The cross-over between the potential clientele of the club and the young people at this point does concerns me.
“Of course I do want Market Street to work commercially and I want the businesses on it to work, so I don’t want to see any kind of operation that is going to have a detrimental effect on residents.
“We have had a graphic description of what might occur on in the place and I don’t want the knowledge of this to start to effect people who live nearby.
“There is no doubt that initially there will be an element of inquisitive about the club and what goes on there from teenagers using the bus stop and I would like to see a later opening time for it so that the two groups can go their separate ways.”
But Pemberton councillor Jeanette Prescott reminded councillors that they “should not look at morals” but only planning regulations in deciding how to vote.
She said: “We all know it goes on and it doesn’t matter where, in Wigan or not, so we must not be hypocritical.”
Her only concern, she said, was that an unlit entry for the club should be properly illuminated.
She said: “I wouldn’t want anybody being dragged down there off the street.”
Hindley’s Coun Jim Ellis said: “What people want to do within four walls is entirely up to them.
“I thing anyhow this is going to be a five-day wonder that will peter out.”
The club was given conditional planning permission but told it must now open no earlier that 6pm.