Sydney Council has been swamped with expansion requests from gay and straight venues on and around Oxford St at a time of increasing pressure from the community and experts to reduce the late-night economy of the strip.
This week, The Gaff nightclub -“ a straight venue formerly known as Rogues -“ sought permission to expand to the adjacent shop, doubling the space for patrons.
Council is yet to consider applications from gay venues including a new front bar for Arq, extended hours for the Colombian, and adjustment to security numbers at Slide.
The Beresford Hotel is also awaiting approval to reopen and is seeking a 3am licence.
The Gaff briefly maintained a weekly gay night several years ago and has joined the two-way radio security network with other Oxford St clubs. Its management did not return SSO‘s calls this week.
The Urban Cultures report commissioned by the City and endorsed by Council in December warned that the strip’s late-night drinking economy was spiralling out of control.
Trends towards noisy pubs and nightclubs drive out other evening activity and impact badly on the day-time life of a street or area, the report by Dr John Mongomery stated.
Negative neighbourhood activities within Oxford St, at present, include clubs playing loud music and 24-hour hotels. These run counter to residential amenity and quiet enjoyment, and are associated with alcohol-related violence and crime. This state of affairs cannot be allowed to persist.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore promised to keep the precinct under control -“ as far the City of Sydney has responsibility -“ at the vigil on Saturday.
We’ve got new planning controls to tackle the few maverick late-night premises, Moore said.
We’ve CCTV cameras monitoring Oxford St 24 hours available to police, improved lighting, increased patrols of city rangers to complement police work, and importantly a rent-free space on Oxford St as a safe space and focal point for community action.
A council spokeswoman said the community often had unrealistic expectations of what local council and the Lord Mayor had the capacity to implement.
CCTV wasn’t a local council responsibility, but we funded it because it was needed, the spokeswoman said.
The City invited gay media to tour the $3.5 million upgraded CCTV room last week, demonstrating the detail picked up by the seven cameras on Oxford St that can zoom down side streets. It spends an additional $1 million annually keeping all 82 citywide cameras running.
Poll: Do we need more venues on and around Oxford St? Vote at www.ssonet.com.au.