By Ian Neubauer

The owner of a Kings Cross nightclub is alleging the City of Sydney has deliberately redrawn the boundaries of the Kings Cross Entertainment Precinct to deprive his business of late-night trading rights.

Ladylux nightclub has been embroiled in costly litigation against the City for more than two years, and is currently awaiting adjudication on a NSW Land and Environment Court ruling concerning the venue’s legal consent to operate as a nightclub.

However, proprietor Scott Bayly said the City has targeted Ladylux for closure, highlighting the venue’s exclusion from the Kings Cross Entertainment District in a map published with the City’s Development Control Plan (DCP) of 2007.

Bayly said a map published with the DCP of 1997 shows the premises housing Ladylux clearly lies within the entertainment district.

Garden Lawyers solicitor, Christina Renner, who is representing Ladylux, said councils have a history of redrawing trading zones to hamstring the operations of businesses that take them to court.

“In our experience, it would not be unusual for a council to deliberately deprive a premises of a beneficial designation under a DCP in circumstances where it is also involved in other action designed to curtail or prevent the use,” Renner said.

“In the case of Ladylux, the City had been attempting to curtail the use since 2006, and these efforts continued throughout the period during which the Late Night Trading Premises DCP was being prepared. It is therefore not surprising that the premises has been stripped of its beneficial late night zoning by the new DCP.”

But a spokesperson for the City of Sydney said comparing the two maps was like comparing “apples and oranges” as the old DCP did not specify trading hours.

“The sections referred to in [the] South Sydney DCP 1997 do not deal with trading hours and therefore a comparison is not possible between this outdated DCP developed by the former South Sydney City Council and the City of Sydney’s current Late Night Trading Premises DCP which came into effect this year,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said the real issue is that Ladylux only has legal consent to trade as a restaurant and is therefore trading illegally as a nightclub.

But Bayly insists this is not the case. He said Ladylux has a Public Place of Entertainment License issued in 1987 and a Nightclub License issue in 1994.

“When the licenses were issued, the consent was live entertainment with dancing with a capacity of 180 people,” he said.

“Entertainment and music has evolved dramatically in the last 20 years and now DJs represent what bands and cabaret represented back then. The venue has operated as a club of one sort of another for more than 20 years.

“If the venue had no consent or license, why after four years of Ladylux trading has this come to light now?”

A ruling from the Land and Environment Court is expected shortly. Ladylux will likely be forced to close its doors should the court rule against the club.
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