The suburb of Potts Point has always been something of a marvel to me. The leafy streets lined with beautiful heritage apartments seem a world away from the hectic bustling nightlife of Kings Cross, though in reality they are separated by only a few blocks.
Sadly that separation has been getting smaller and smaller over the last few years as licensed premises spread further from the heart of Kings Cross and into this quiet residential neighbourhood. The nightlife of Kings Cross makes an important contribution to the economy of Sydney, but as recent events have shown it is starting to spiral out of control as the area has gone beyond saturation point in terms of number of liquor outlets. The last thing anyone needs is for the Kings Cross late night precinct to get even bigger.
It was for this reason that earlier this year I worked hard to have the City’s new Development Control Plan (DCP – our main planning policy document) amended to remove the goal of turning Challis Ave and Macleay St into the centre of a boutique dining precinct. However despite those changes Council this week approved a significant increase in patron capacity for a licensed restaurant on Macleay St that had previously been fined over noise issues and to which there had been significant community opposition.
It is disappointing that Council chose to do this despite the progressive changes made to the DCP. The vote was tight, with 5 Councillors voting in favour and 5 voting against, requiring the Lord Mayor to use her casting vote to secure the approval, so it seems concern about bar creep is growing, however there is more that needs to be done on the issue.
While we didn’t win this time I’ll continue to take up the community’s fight for more sensible planning decisions around licensed premises and to keep a lid on their out of control expansion into residential neighbourhoods.