City of Newcastle planning staff have recommended councillors approve King Street Hotel's proposed expansion that would increase the popular nightclub's capacity to 1300 persons.
The elected council will determine the venue's change-of-use development application at a committee meeting on Tuesday night.
Under the proposal, the venue would expand into a neighbouring two-storey building on Steel Street, increasing its overall capacity from 780 to 1300 persons.
The council has already approved plans for an internal fit-out of the adjoining premises, which the hotel's owners purchased in 2019.
Newcastle City Police opposed the expansion in a submission to council, arguing it would have a "further detrimental effect" on the inner-city neighbourhood. "Police believe the proposed venue ... will significantly impact on crime," Detective Chief Inspector Scott Parker wrote. "There is a high likelihood of patrons wandering the streets intoxicated."
The staff report prepared for Tuesday's meeting shows police and the applicant are at odds over crime statistics associated with the hotel.
The venue said in its application that "under eight incidents have occurred per year at King Street since 2013", which the police submission labelled a "gross inaccuracy".
Police said it had been on the "declared premises" list almost every year from 2010 to 2019 with between 12 and 22 violent assaults a year.
But in its response to the police submission, the venue describes those statistics as "factually incorrect" and says Liquor and Gaming dumped its Violent Venues Scheme earlier this year "because it was not considered to be a fair or reasonable assessment of licensed venues".
The DA attracted 17 submissions in total, most from nearby residents, which raised concerns about noise and anti-social behaviour.
King Street Hotel owner Russell Richardson said his team had worked with council to address the concerns, committing to a number of conditions of consent including posting a security guard near the 24-hour McDonalds restaurant, developing with other businesses a late-night precinct management plan, running a courtesy bus to assist with dispersing patrons, using crowd control bollards, increasing lighting and CCTV, and producing yearly acoustic reports and a monthly management log.
He told the Newcastle Herald the venue would "rarely" reach the increased capacity limit and the expansion offered "operational flexibility" and "variety to our offering".
"We've listened to the residents, we've listened to the concerns of councillors and we've made adjustments to hopefully be the best club we can be," he said.
The nightclub reopened in March after being closed for a year due to COVID-19.