Saturday, June 11, 2011

Darlinghurst: Development Applications: 234 Bourke Street Part Two

A letter-box war has erupted over the future of this insignificant terrace house on Bourke Street with fliers being dropped in mailboxes arguing for and against its proposed use as a sex-worker drop-in centre. I wrote about the proposed development last week after seeing the first flier from the Bourke Street Collective (BSC), which was opposed to the Hope Street organisation's plans to turn the residential house into a safe place for street prostitutes. Since then three more fliers have landed in mail-boxes on the street.
The first flier was from the East Sydney Neighbourhood Association (ESNA) who write that it is ''naive'' to think that the proposed centre would not attract more prostitutes to the area, bringing with them ''more drugs, more syringes, more pimps, more clients.
''Is that what we want to deal with as residents on a day to day basis?''.
The second flier arrived on Wednesday and was from ''Various Other Local Residents'' who back the drop-in centre and write that ''encouraging appropriate, proactive policies and projects to help improve the lives of those in our own backyard is the right thing to do.''
They call for some perspective on the issue: ''SCEGGS moved here in 1901 and has flourished, despite the area being, ever since the development of the Victoria Barracks in the 1840s, a noted and ongoing hub for prostitution.
''And of course no historical tour of Darlinghurst is complete without passing by the one-time residence of Tilly Devine, infamous 1920s (right up until 1968) Palmer Street prostitute and madam, just a street down from this proposed development.
''Implying that sex workers present a new, alien or surprising set of problems that belong elsewhere, or will go elsewhere any time soon, is inaccurate and looks self serving.''

The third flier arrived within 24 hours and was signed by a group who ''call ourselves the majority of local residents and we bashfully remain as equally anonymous as 'Various Other Local Residents'.''
''We regret we are as cowardly as 'Various Other Local Residents' who do not reveal who they are, unlike the community groups who truly work for the direct benefit of local residents such as BSC and ESNA.''
The flier goes on to say that the proposed drop-in centre would not ''dilute'' the problem of street prostitution but ''has the potential to aggravate it''.
They also address the perspective issue from the previous flier and write, ''The fact that East Sydney has a history of illegal activities (which includes prostitution) does not legitimise or give credence to its past.
''Today's local community needs and wants have significantly evolved and they do not warrant a sex-worker drop in centre.''

Personally, I don't think it is an appropriate place for a sex-worker drop-in centre as the block is residential. I am not in denial about sex-workers, I am happy for them to stay in the area, but if I was living in the house next door, I wouldn't want any commercial enterprise, charity, church or business - for sex-workers or anyone - moving in, as there would be people milling around outside all the time.
I don't see why they just don't sell the house, make over $1million and then buy something in a commercial area and set up the drop-in centre there. I suspect the only reason it is planned for this location is because the house is owned by the Reverend Noreen Towers and she has donated it to Hope Street for their use.
Anyway, all of that doesn't matter because the exhibition period for the development application closed on Friday. 


nev il-pinto said...

where would you suggest this kind of development be placed? dont you think it is better to confince this kind of activity to an area where it has traditionally been accepted rather than pushing it oput tio an area where it is not wanted. before you start trying to sday 'well its not wanted here' just remember, the sex workers (and the crims & junkies) were there long before you were. you knew they were there when you chose to live in darlighurst. you can not move into an area that is known as a suburb that is accepting of prostitution and drug use and then try to change because you do not like the prostitutes or drug users. if you want to live in a 'trendy arty' part of sydney then these are the things you have to deal with. if not, then fuck off back to the Nth Shore.

Violet said...

It's nothing against sex workers, nev il-pinto. As I said in the post, if I lived there, I wouldn't want any business or charity moving next door. It's a residential strip of Darlinghurst and there are plenty of commercial strips in Darlinghurst where they could move to with no complaints.
You're welcome to your opinion, but there's really no need to swear about it and make stupid accusations that I come from the North Shore.

Christina said...

nev il-pinto, the street workers have been GONE from Darlinghurst for at least the past 8 years. In the past year there has been a couple (and when I say a couple I literally mean 2) every now and then, but it is rare to see them anymore.

This proposed application will increase that number. A number that pretty much does not exist.

Regardless of the areas history, the world EVOLVES. Darlinghurst has evolved. Perhaps YOU should evolve with it.