Traders in the Ballarat gateway Main Road precinct say a revamp has failed to revitalise the area, while an illegal brothel they suspect is operating in the area has added to the unsavoury element.
The recently-upgraded streetscape, completed as part of a draft plan with the City of Ballarat, was intended to revitalise the historic Ballarat East shopping area, the original CBD of the town.
Green spaces and ‘parklets’ have been incorporated into the street, which has been turned from a two-way street in a single direction back towards Bridge Street.
But owner of clothing store That Little Vintage Shop, Jenny Bottomley, says trade has declined since the changes, and the persistence of unsavoury behaviour is not helping business.
“Look they might be doing great business over there, (at the suspected brothel),” she says.
“But since these changes, people have stopped coming down here. It’s gone backwards. It was supposed to create ‘hustle and bustle’, but I think the only ones getting any hustle and bustle are their clients.”
It was supposed to create ‘hustle and bustle’, but I think the only ones getting any hustle and bustle are the (brothel) clientsLocal trader in Main Road
She says it’s added to woes created by poor behaviour at the bus stop outside the supermarkets on Little Bridge Street and the persistence of people creating disturbances.
The Courier has chosen not to identify the particular premises that is in question.
Another business owner says its clear there has been a brothel operating on Main Road. He says he has had men come into his business saying they were ‘waiting for a friend who is at the brothel’.
The owner also said he’d seen people behaving anti-socially around Main Road. He had caught one person defecating in the doorway of a nearby restaurant in recent times.
Other businesses in Main Road The Courier spoke to declined to comment on the existence of any brothel.
The City of Ballarat issued a statement saying it had referred the matter to Ballarat Police. Ballarat Police said anyone with concerns about any illegal business should contact them.
In response to questions from The Courier regarding the legality of creating brothels in the Ballarat (not Main Road specifically), City of Ballarat director of infrastructure and environment Terry Demeo issued the following statement.
The City of Ballarat Planning Scheme prohibits the use of land/buildings for the use of a brothel in the majority of zoned areas. A legal brothel is a section two use (where a planning permit can be issued). Council would deal with the application on merit, with the application being referred to Victoria Police and other relevant agencies.
Whilst it is not normal for planning permit applications for other land uses, the character of a proprietor in relation to a brothel use is a relevant consideration which Council would clearly take into consideration.