A Sydney City Council decision to disallow the clustering of sex industry premises in Kings Cross has been welcomed by some residents but angered industry advocates.

It’s the adult theme park, and they’re taking the rides away! said Maria McMahon, manager of the Sex Workers Outreach Project [SWOP]. This is an incredibly short-sighted approach, which discriminates against sex industry businesses.

At a meeting on Monday night, Council unanimously decided to adopt South Sydney Council’s existing sex industry policy, with one change: the removal of a clause which exempted Darlinghurst Road from anti-clustering provisions. The new policy will mean that no new sex industry business will be able to open within 75 metres of an existing sex industry establishment.

Sydney Lord Mayor Lucy Turnbull told Sydney Star Observer that Council was not trying to turn the Cross into another Paddington.

We want it to be a place that’s always interesting and colourful and with a lot of local character, she said. But we want it to be for tourists and locals too, and at the moment you could argue that the Darlinghurst Road strip does not cater to local residents and people who work in the area. What we need is a diverse mix of uses so there is no preponderance of any kind of activity.

Turnbull said no other clauses of the sex industry policy were changed, although other provisions of the policy would be examined later in the year.

This is an interim step to prevent the clustering problem in the Kings Cross area, she said. The sex industry is apparent right throughout Sydney, it’s just that it tended to be extremely intensely clustered in the Cross, and since the clustering exemption was introduced by South Sydney Council several years ago, that problem has intensified.

McMahon said the impact of the new policy would be felt over time as present sex industry establishment leases expired.

This will change the nature of Kings Cross from a relatively well-balanced and regulated sex industry enclave, she said. Kings Cross is known internationally because it has a relatively safe 24-hour business area, which could be celebrated and marketed.

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