Extended hours for swingers superclub in Leeds 'allows gay sauna to operate in same building'

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Extended opening hours for a 'supersized swingers club' in Leeds will allow the gay sauna in the same building to continue trading, according to the businesses' planning bid.

It was announced this week that Pandora - an adult club located in a former shoe warehouse in Ledgard Way, Armley - had applied for retrospective planning permission to open from 10am to 1am on Monday to Thursday and 10am to 2am Friday and Saturday, as well as midnight on Sundays.

One reason given was that the building also houses gay sauna Steam Complex.

Steam Complex moved from another site in Armley after a fire in 2016, and the application for the new hours stated that the extended opening was needed to allow both businesses to operate from the same building - and that refusing the application would make them 'unviable'.

The applicant had already been operating without incident for two years, papers presented to Leeds City Council’s South and West Plans panel today said.

A previous bid to extend the hours was deferred for negotiations with the applicant to reduce the hours of operation, particularly through the day.

However council officers were told that “reduced hours would have a detrimental impact on the economic viability of the business and that the general flow of trade is from the morning and lessens after 15:00 hours”.

At a meeting at Leeds Civic Hall on Thursday, the extended opening hours were approved, with a temporary permission of 12 months.

After 12 months, the applicants will need to re-apply and the timings will be re-assessed based on environmental impacts.

A report prepared ahead of the meeting to advise the panel said the extended opening hours were needed due to the fact that two separate businesses will operate from the one site.

“Due to the different business models employed the two businesses cannot operate side by side,” the report said.

“Consequently one business will operate from 10 till 7pm, after which the other business takes over and operates until the latest closing time. “Due to the need to incorporate both businesses under the one roof the hours cannot be reduced further from those requested as it would in effect make the earlier business unviable.

“The proposal does allow for the two businesses to operate satisfactorily alongside each other, without the need for two separate addresses.”

A number of objection letters had been received to the application.

These included fears from locals that the daytime use would be “more conspicuous to passing members of the public”.

The local ward councillors said the business was “entirely unsuitable and inappropriate for a residential area” and that the presence of the business “tarnishes people’s perceptions of Armley and fails to positively contribute to the area”.

Local MP Rachel Reeves also wrote to object, pointing out that “this location for the swingers club is much too close to centres of population and to the town”, and adding that “I believe that this type of establishment should only ever be in a very discreet area well away from family housing and town centres”. Y

Despite the concerns, council officers had recommended approval of the new hours. “It is not considered the proposed hours of operation now proposed would have an unduly adverse impact on residential amenity, parking requirements, highway safety or the character and appearance of the immediate or wider area,” the officers’ recommendation read.

“The premises sits within a commercial setting and all activities would by their nature be restricted within the building other than the smoking shelter where patrons are unlikely to use undressed or in robes.” The papers said the panel had “sympathy” with residents’ concerns “but there was not sufficient planning grounds to refuse the application”.