THE Hills Council took a cautionary approach when considering whether to increase nightclub numbers at The Hillside Hotel, Cr Alan Haselden said.
"'We felt that The Hillside Tavern is clearly an under-utilised social resource for the community, in that it is capable of catering for more patrons than the current council provisions," he said.
Councillors debated for more than 40 minutes about the merits of allowing the club to increase its limit of 412 patrons and staff to 590.
Council general manager Dave Walker said: "Council gave due consideration not only to police concerns and the applicant's submission, but also to the community's needs for social facilities of this kind."
The council heard from Patrick Hurley of PGH Environmental Planning. Mr Hurley said Hillside could cater for 900 patrons and still comply with the Building Code of Australia.
They also heard from Hills crime manager Detective Inspector Gary Bailey, who said the police had "operational concerns" with the application.
He circulated a NSW crime map that showed numerous alcohol-related incidents within the vicinity of Hillside, including assaults, drug detections, affrays and offensive behaviour.
"We would just raise the question whether or not the incidents that are occurring relate to The Hillside Hotel," Mr Hurley said.
"I'm not sure it's fair to disadvantage my client because of the resources of the NSW Police Force."
Cr Tony Hay said: "You [Detective Inspector Bailey] note no complaint against the management."
Detective Inspector Bailey said: "We couldn't find them doing anything wrong."
After the meeting Cr Haselden said: "We didn't ignore his advice at all. In fact we took it very, very seriously.
"Having taken on board Detective Inspector Bailey's comments we decided to take a cautious approach and allow the licensee to increase his total number of patrons and staff to 590.
"In further considering the police's comments and the potential impact on the Terminus Street car park, council agreed to approve the increase subject to one-year review."
The applicant will need in a year to make a submission to the council, to be considered on its merits at the time.