Protecting the historic heart of Kings Cross

A blueprint for future development on Darlinghurst Road.

From the façades of infamous nightclubs to art deco apartments, we want to preserve the character of the colourful Kings Cross strip.

That means encouraging a variety of shops, businesses and residences, and protecting its fabulous architecture.

Based on feedback from locals, our new locality statement and planning rules set design principles for new development in the area.

The Bourbon and Beef Steakhouse, 2003. Credit: City of Sydney Archives NSCA CRS 904 / 59766

These rules require at least half the floor space along Darlinghurst Road to be non-residential, such as shops, restaurants and cafes. The rules also include heritage guidelines to protect the area’s social and historic significance.

Specific controls for 18 to 32A Darlinghurst Road will protect sunlight for neighbouring properties.

We also want to heritage list 3 of the area’s most important buildings – Kingsley Hall, the façade of the former Bourbon hotel, and the site of The Empire hotel.

Here’s why we think they’re worth preserving.

Kingsley Hall at 1A Elizabeth Bay Road

This is a fine example of a purpose-built inter-war art deco apartment building designed by celebrated Sydney architect Emil Sodersteen. Located on the corner of Darlinghurst Road and Barncleuth Square and overlooking Fitzroy Gardens, it’s a landmark building in Kings Cross.

The façade of The Bourbon at 22–24 Darlinghurst Road

This site of historical significance reflects social and architectural change in Potts Point over the decades. The mansion terrace was originally built for wealthy professionals, then modified for use as a private hospital, later converted to a boarding house, and finally became a popular nightclub.

Charlemont Private Hospital, one of the former uses of the Bourbon hotel. Credit: National Museum of Australia

The Empire site at 32–32A Darlinghurst Road

This modernist building housed the internationally recognised Les Girls nightclub in the 1960s and 1970s. While it has been heavily altered, the site played an important role in Kings Cross’s colourful past. The proposed planning rules would allow the building to be redeveloped as long as this work accounted for the site’s history and social connections.

The plans respond to community concern over a development proposal to demolish most of the former Bourbon and Empire hotels and build 83 residential apartments.

The plans were withdrawn by the applicant because they did not meet planning rules or suit the area’s character. We investigated and proposed these new planning rules to protect the area.

Les Girls, one of the former uses of the Empire hotel. Credit: City of Sydney Archives

You can see and comment on the proposed planning rules until 23 October.

The proposed heritage listings will be reviewed by the NSW Government and exhibited at a later date.

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