The City of Sydney needs to develop an objective system to block saturation of late-night drinking venues to prevent Oxford St turning into Kings Cross, according to Greens Councillor Chris Harris.
Without it, the problem of homophobic violence on the strip would only get worse, the Councillor said.
“We need to find some way of objectively assessing the saturation of an area, so if another development application comes up we can say ‘sorry, no more’,” Harris said.
A new strategy was needed, he said, because council-rejected applications were being approved on appeal by the courts on the basis the areas were already entertainment precincts.
“But people also live there. It needs a balance. If we approve another six 24-hour 7-day venues in Oxford St, we’re going to create a nightmare every Friday and Saturday night.”
That situation was already being witnessed in Kings Cross, but City Rangers were powerless to do more than observe, and Kings Cross police were too busy with major crime to worry about bad behaviour around clubs, Harris said.
“The issue of homophobic violence is always about pissed people doing crappy things. If we keep approving late-night venues that’s going to get worse.”
With several Oxford St venues, gay and straight, seeking expansions, extensions to trading hours, and increased capacity, Harris said he would push for a saturation test to be part of the official Greens platform in the September council elections.
“We need a measure that we can give to the courts to show we’re doing it in fair and consistent measure. The court then won’t be able to say we’re being discretionary,” he said.
Harris also called on residents and interested parties to make their objections to new applications known to councillors.
“Aurora Bar got a lot of attention, but others have gone through on delegation that I don’t even know about, where there were no submissions,” he said.
“If it was something that was really going to bother people then it’s gone through and they’ve got consent to do it, and there hasn’t been very close scrutiny of it.”