Planning for the future

After dark: Sydney’s nightlife set for an encore

New measures to create a more diverse and exciting city.

Dulcies. Credit: Rudi Towiro

Crucial to Sydney’s post-pandemic recovery will be an exciting and thriving nightlife … and that’s exactly what’s on the cards.

A suite of new planning reforms aim to energise Sydney’s $4 billion night time economy, enable later trading for shops and businesses, protect live music venues and allow more small-scale cultural activities to take place across the city.

As we look to a future beyond the pandemic, this is an opportunity to reimagine Sydney at night.

We want to see cultural activity in unexpected locations such as stand-up comedy in bookshops, or live music in hairdressing salons. We also want to give shops and businesses in the city the option to trade later if they wish. The changes would make it easier to put on small events and allow opening hours to be extended without a further development consent from 7am to 10pm, 7 days a week.

Reforms are proposed to give live music venues greater certainty for their operations. New residential developments near an existing venue or in a late-night precinct will need to be designed to protect new residents from neighbourhood noise. There are also new reforms to provide better and consistent guidance on acceptable sound levels that must be met by all venues that host entertainment.

Sydney Fringe Festival CEO and industry chair of the City of Sydney’s nightlife and creative sector advisory panel, Kerri Glassock, said the reforms will encourage more businesses to connect with local artists and creatives to work together to build a vibrant offering.

“In a city often dominated by regulation, these reforms will enable the cultural sector and the business community to join forces and reactivate the city through diverse, multi-purpose use of buildings and spaces,” Kerri said.

“It’s incredibly exciting to think that in the not too distant future our high streets might have new cultural offerings and venues popping up all across the city.

“This has never been more important than now, with the impacts of the Covid pandemic decimating our local venues and artist community, it will be wonderful to have a wider range of spaces and venues available for creatives to work in.”

Emily Collins, managing director of Music NSW and member of the nightlife and creative sector advisory panel agreed, saying the reforms are fantastic news for Sydney’s night-time economy and live music venues.

“It’s wonderful to see the City of Sydney leading the conversation about the importance of arts, culture and late-night activity, and following through with reforms that genuinely support creative businesses and practitioners,” Emily said.

“Even something so small as defining entertainment sound, instead of noise, demonstrates a level of respect for live music that is rarely present when dealing with policy-makers.”

The proposed changes were approved by Council on 29 June. The reforms will soon be put on exhibition for public feedback once approved by the NSW Government.

Published 21 July 2020