Massage bid turned down after protest

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Controversial plans for a Thai massage parlour to open longer into the evening have been blocked after pleas from neighbouring residents.

People living near the Starlight venue, on Chesterfield Road, Meersbrook, were unhappy about extra noise and lack of parking and worried that activities taking place were ‘related to the sex industry’.

Members of Sheffield Council’s City Centre, South and East planning board who considered the decision were not allowed to make a decision on moral grounds.

But planning board chairman Coun John Hesketh said: “Members were convinced that late night activities and noise would impact upon the quality of neighbours’ lives.”

The refusal was made on the grounds of the impact on amenity of surrounding residents.

Applicant Datchanee Bunker wanted to expand the hours to close at 10pm from Mondays to Saturdays. The venue is currently open from 11am until 7pm. Mrs Bunker also wanted to open from 11am to 6pm on Sundays.

Residents living nearby mounted a campaign to stop the application, and 74 of them signed a letter of protest to councillors.

It read: “This is abhorrent and immoral and should be closed down immediately.

“It is a blight upon the area and disgusting.”

One resident added: “Such businesses are an anachronism in today’s society.

“They help reinforce the idea of women as objects and are deeply insulting.”

Their campaign was backed by ward councillors Peter Moor, Cate McDonald and Sylvia Dunkley.

The Starlight Thai Massage website features pictures of scantily-clad women and boasts of ‘pleasure and adult fun’ and girls who will ‘take care of customers’ every desire’.

Datchanee Bunker and husband David deny the premises are used for any immoral activities.

A report by Sheffield Council’s planning officers said: “The proposed extension of hours is considered unacceptable based on potential for further noise and disturbance for residents.”