Yes, you always need council approval to operate a brothel. Brothels are also known as “sex services premises”—that is, they are places where sexual services happen.
To run a sex services premises you usually have to put in a Development Application (DA) and get approval from your local council. Here are some key things you should know:
- Brothels are legal in NSW but, like other businesses, approval from local council is required.
- The property owner will need to sign the application to run a brothel.
- Many council planning policies restrict brothels to industrial zones.
- Approval from council only applies to the premises—it cannot be transferred to other properties or locations.
- Don’t set your sights on a site without investigating the council’s brothel zoning laws.
- Talking with the council planners as early as possible can be to your advantage—but if you are already running the business do this with care. Council staff may be required to act on information you share with them about unauthorised or illegal premises.
- Engaging private planners and solicitors should be done only when you need them.
- Councils have planning staff who can assist you with your application and plans.
We have lots of information about councils and development applications in our section on sex work law.