Sunderland swingers club must apply for planning permission

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A CONTROVERSIAL swingers club has been told it must apply for planning permission by council chiefs.

As reported in the Echo, bosses of Secrets swingers club sparked a backlash from some Wearsiders when it was announced the venue would open in Villiers Street, Sunderland.

The club’s website claims the venue is offering “Greedy Girls” parties in the afternoon as well as at night.

But the Echo can reveal planners at Sunderland City Council have asked Secrets to apply for planning permission, which would allow those concerned to submit official objections.

The venue – which says its parties are “fun, sexy and discreet” – could be shut down if the owners do not apply for planning permission, or if their retrospective application is rejected by councillors.

A council spokesman said: “The city council considers that the use of the premises as a private club requires planning permission.

“Officers have been in contact with the owners of the premises who have been invited to submit a planning application which, once received, will be publicised in the normal manner and considered on its merits.”

Father Chris Jackson, parish priest of Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church, in Penshaw, was among those to speak out against the club when plans were first put in the spotlight.

He said: “Our society is broken, sick. That’s what people said after the riots. To mend and heal society we need to find ways of making families stronger.

“That’s why a ‘swingers’ club’ is the last thing Sunderland needs. You can kid yourself that this is just a bit of fun for consenting adults. There lies the danger – sex is one of God’s good gifts to us in marriage.

“Making it trivial or using it to make money is part of the attack on marriage and family life.”

But the club sparked a mixed reaction from neighbours, with some happy to live and let live while others were concerned about the impact on the area.

Swinging, whereby couples swap sexual partners, is legal and, while the club does need planning permission, it may not need a special council licence.

Single girls and “greedy girls” couples are offered free entry to parties advertised on the club’s website, with single men charged £30.

All members must be over-21 and pay an annual membership fee of £20 a year for couples and single men, and £10 for single women.

A statement on the Secrets website reads: “We offer a relaxed and friendly environment to meet like minded people.

“All new members are shown around and given chance to ask questions. We are a totally non pushy venue, our number one rule is no means no.

“Our staff are always on hand to answer any of your questions on the night.”

A Secrets spokesman declined to comment.

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