The authority has been considering an application by 49-year-old German dominatrix Susanne Pitt, who works under the name of Lily von Frauenau, to open a dungeon in a redundant office block in Swalwell. Pitt's website reveals that the emporium would offer bondage, corporal punishment and "sissification", in which male clients dress up as women.
Although the council has received petitions and letters of complaint from local residents, schools and businesses, officers have recommended the application for approval, explaining that moral judgements are not a matter for the planning system. But development control panel chairman Joe Hattam stresses: "People just don't want something like this here." If Pitt launches a successful appeal, the decision to reject officers' advice will hit council taxpayers in the pocket. She is weighing up whether to appeal - an interesting position for a dominatrix to take.