Media Release
Bright lights, bright future for Kings Cross
24 April, 2021

Media contact

Matt Levinson

An expanded public square in front of Kings Cross’ famous Coke sign will be the centrepiece of a ‘neon thread’ through the district, in a Committee for Sydney proposal to get the Cross buzzing again.

“We’re putting forward this new vision for the Cross as a place for people of all ages and at all times of day,” said Gabriel Metcalf, CEO of the Committee for Sydney.

“In the ‘50s, the Cross was famous for its neon signs which lit the main streets and lanes – the famous Coke sign is all that’s left now.
“We think the Cross can literally feature neon as a defining element of its aesthetic. Just imagine a thread of neon lights in shopfronts and side-streets through the Cross, even a neon version of Arthur Stace’s iconic Eternity signature.

“Combined with more space for people, a strategy to build a booming cultural and restaurant precinct and activating the area during the day, and we’re confident Kings Cross’ best days are ahead.”

A Vision for Kings Cross is the Committee’s new report, developed with Business Sydney, the UTS Institute for Public Policy and Governance, and Hatch RobertsDay, with support from the City of Sydney, and drawing on the findings of workshops and a survey of more than 350 local residents and business operators.

It sets out actions to improve the district’s local economy, transport and urban design – including the following big moves:

  1. Encouraging businesses to use neon signage as a key identifying marker, with innovative lighting projects to add spark and improve safety
  2. Creating more daytime activity by converting underused retail floorspace to coworking and incentivising office space in future developments
  3. A single agency to manage all noise and complaints across the area, with planning incentives to encourage new theatre and live venues
  4. Late night trains to connect the Cross to the wider 24-hour Metro network, as well as making the streets safer and easier to navigate on foot
  5. Creating a new economic strategy to diversify Kings Cross’s day and night time economy.

Katherine O’Regan, Executive Director of Business Sydney, said:

“We have a valuable opportunity to grow the city’s economy in Kings Cross by enabling a diversity of local businesses to thrive and drive Sydney’s emerging 24-hour economy, with an emphasis on arts and entertainment for people of all ages.

“It can become somewhere for those who work at night in Sydney to dine or shop, a place that is safe, inclusive and alive with spontaneous entertainment and activities, generating significant business growth.”

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said:

“Kings Cross has a colourful history, a strong identity and a recent troubled past. It has been a bohemian heartland, an underworld stronghold and a lively late-night destination, and in the wake of lockouts and Covid-19, it will be time to start a new chapter.

“We’re confident the next chapter in that history will be safe and lively, with a thriving residential community and a diverse economy that includes fabulous nightclubs and bars, restaurants, theatres, shops and cultural institutions open late – a Kings Cross we can be proud of and our global city deserves.

“I welcome the Committee for Sydney’s recommendations, many of which the City has been progressing for some time, including pedestrian-friendly improvements, increased tree canopies, a more diverse night-time economy.”

Carol Mills, Director of the Institute for Public Policy and Governance at University of Technology, Sydney, said:

“Our research findings highlighted that Kings Cross is not a unified place, suited to simple silver bullet planning decisions.

“Traditionally it has been simultaneously highly valued and criticised for many reasons. Our consultations showed that residents, local businesses and tourists all valued its energy and history of diversity. Clearly, there is great value adopting place-based solutions, designed to ensure this unique part of Sydney continues to play an important and positive role in the life of this city.”

Tom Payne, senior urban and place planner at Hatch RobertsDay and inner-Sydney local with a strong attachment to the Cross, said:

“Creating a vision for Kings Cross is an opportunity to collectively imagine how its public spaces – including its streets – can bring people together at all times of the day. The promotion of a walkable neighbourhood, focused on human connection, will promote the Cross as the vibrant place we all know and love.”

High resolution images and animations are available here: