Lord Mayor Clover Moore today released an action list for the State Government to help clean up Kings Cross.
"I really welcome the Premier's commitment to working with the City to resolve the issues in Kings Cross. We all know what needs to be done and we want to work with the State Government to turn things around. It's time for the Premier to use his power to make real change at the Cross possible," the Lord Mayor said.
"The City has been making changes in Kings Cross for two years and we have 30 different actions underway such as late night ambassadors in the peak summer period, however we have limited power when it comes to the big issues that can make real differences like licensing and transport.
"We've spent the last 18 months researching what other cities do, speaking to thousands of people to find out what kind of late night city they want and working with residents, business, NSW Police, late trading venues, accommodation services, government agencies and academics to develop a late night plan for Sydney.
"We know what needs to be done - we have a plan. The City of Sydney is taking action in areas where we have responsibility and we want the NSW Government to take action, including changing laws, in the areas they are responsible such as licensing, transport, policing, environmental protection and most importantly the cumulative impact of too many venues in one area, such as in Kings Cross."
The City's action list for the State Government includes:
- A state co-ordinated management plan involving transport and Police for Kings Cross on a Friday and Saturday night, just like there is for NYE and other major events;
- Legislative change to the NSW Liquor and Planning Act so that Councils can say when an area has reached saturation point in terms of the number of late night venues such as in Kings Cross;
- More late night transport - 24 hour trains and buses in the long term but in the short term, a summer trial of a late night sprint service to transport people via trains out of the Cross straight to Town Hall where extra night ride buses will take them home. Extra Police and Security will be needed at the stations to ensure people are safe;
- The removal of legislative barriers for private bus operators so they can operate late at night;
- Improved operation and security on the Bayswater Rd taxi rank;
- The introduction of prepay option for taxis;
- Streamlining the process people have to go through when there are noise impacts; and
- The introduction of renewable licensing permits like in other global late night cities - London, New York and Paris.
"The saturation of licensed venues in Kings Cross is a major concern. Current planning laws mean the City can't refuse a development application for a new venue when an area has reached saturation point," the Lord Mayor said.
"We need the State Government to change the Planning Act so councils can say when an area has enough late night venues - when enough is enough!
"Much of the violence and anti-social behaviour in Kings Cross stems from having large numbers of people spilling out onto the streets at one time with no transport to get them home.
"The Late Night City Sprint service would bring people from Kings Cross to Town Hall, where it would feed into an upgraded Night Ride bus service to deliver people home safely.
"It would be a one-way, five-minute trip that would get a huge number of people out of the Cross, where they are currently stranded.
"If the State legislation allows for a 24 hour city then we need 24 hour transport."
City research shows that more than 20,000 people are in Darlinghurst Road Kings Cross on a Saturday night between 11pm and 3am. On average there are 40 assaults, fights or other serious incidents of anti-social behaviour every Friday and Saturday night in Kings Cross, and that there is a clear link between crowd numbers and anti-social behaviour - the smaller the crowds, the fewer incidents.
"We have as many people on Darlinghurst Road in Kings Cross after midnight on Saturday as we do at Martin Place at peak, but nowhere near the same level of transport services," the Lord Mayor said.
Sydney has the largest night time economy in Australia - worth $15 billion in 2009, the greatest residential and commercial densities and the largest number of visitors.