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City of Sydney Supports Plan to Reignite Nightlife in Kings Cross

A new theatre and arts precinct, pedestrian-friendly laneways and a revamped train station could be on the cards for Sydney's former red light district.
By Cordelia Williamson
May 18, 2020
By Cordelia Williamson
May 18, 2020

It's no secret that Kings Cross has grown quiet in recent years. Walk around its laneways now and you're more likely to see people in lycra sipping macchiatos and eating breakfast bowls than you are people in high heels spilling out of nightclubs. But, after years of lockout laws, there are plans for a new — or returning — Kings Cross on the horizon.

In a push to bolster the city's nighttime economy, the City of Sydney has backed independent think tank Committee for Sydney's ideas on how to reinvent Sydney's former red light district. In a recent City of Sydney report, the council acknowledged that what was once the centre of Sydney nightlife has "lost its identity, with remaining businesses struggling to attract new audiences, a situation compounded by the current pandemic." So, it's throwing it a lifeline.

On Monday, May 11, the council approved a $40,000 grant for Committee for Sydney to work with local businesses and other stakeholders in developing a report, with recommendations on how to enhance the attraction and safety of the Cross at night.

"We believe there is an opportunity to develop a new vision for the area that builds upon its historic reputation as a centre for diverse and lively urban living, culture, arts and entertainment," the Committee of Sydney told Concrete Playground. "Kings Cross has a rich heritage as Sydney's heartland for theatre and other live performance, has good public transport links into the CBD and attractive public spaces."

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the aptly named Night-Time Precinct Vision for Kings Cross proposes three key changes: reopening the old Minerva Theatre on Orwell Street as a new theatre and arts precinct; revamping the train station out of the 80s, making it more suitable and safer for late-night transport; and making the laneways more pedestrian-friendly.

In January, lockout laws were finally lifted across Sydney's CBD, but remained in place in Kings Cross. A NSW Government parliamentary inquiry into the state of Sydney's nighttime economy — which was released in September last year – recommended the lockout laws remain in the high-density area as there was a "high risk" of violence increasing if they were lifted.

The area currently has a freeze on new liquor licences, too, but that's set to be reviewed on June 1, 2020.

The new lockout laws are due for review in less than 12 months, but with the additional impacts caused by COVID-19, the City of Sydney says "it is critical the City supports the nightlife industry to position itself well for recovery, particularly in areas like Kings Cross."

Top image: Andy Vermeulen for Destination NSW

Published on May 18, 2020 by Cordelia Williamson


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