Support for business

Late night trading changes: What Sydney businesses need to know

Businesses in our area can apply to trade later thanks to updated late-night trading planning controls. Find out what this could mean for you.

Frankies interior

We asked Sydneysiders last year for their feedback on late-night trading in Sydney. More than 10,000 people told us they want more live entertainment, cultural and creative activities, and for venues, businesses, shops and restaurants in Sydney to be allowed to stay open later. In June we changed the rules to enable this to happen.

These are some of the biggest changes to city planning in over a decade.

They allow for 24-hour trading across the entire city centre.

Unlicensed businesses, like bookstores, clothing shops, drycleaners and hairdressers, can now apply to open all hours in certain areas. They can also open later in neighbourhood high streets. Some food and drink venues on major high streets, like Crown, Redfern and Union streets, can also apply to trade later.

There are new late-night trading areas in some of the city’s fastest-growing neighbourhoods, such as Barangaroo, Walsh Bay and Green Square. And we’ve expanded some existing late-night trading areas. We’ve also changed the plans to encourage a new cultural precinct in Alexandria and introduced extra hours for performance venues and venues which host performance. You can read more about the changes.

Plenty of businesses want to know more about how it works for them. Here are some answers to the most common questions.

If you want to extend your trading hours you need to apply

If your business is in a late-night precinct, this may be an opportunity for you to apply to extend the hours your business can stay open. Businesses cannot just start trading 24 hours a day or extended hours.

You can apply for the new trading hours through the development application process.

Later trading can open up more opportunities for your business

We know there’s a demand in Sydney for more late-night options. Sydneysiders have told us they want later trading hours, more options for things to do after dark, and more places to go close to home.

Our research shows they want more cultural activities, creative events and programming that aren’t solely focused around alcohol. There’s also demand for services and general shops to be open later for workers heading home, and those who don’t work standard hours.

You don’t have to stay open later all the time

Applying for later trading hours gives you the flexibility to choose to open later when you want to. But you don’t have to stay open later all the time.

For example, you can extend your trading hours to give your business the option to take part in after-hours events and festivals or open later when the weather is warmer.

If you want to extend your hours, you’ll need to lodge a modification to your current development consent.

All businesses have to go through this process so we can consult with the surrounding community. It’s all about balancing the needs of businesses and residents. We also set any conditions needed to mitigate impacts on the local neighbourhood.

We approve extra hours incrementally and on a trial basis, so we can reward well-managed venues.

It’s easy to see if your business is in a late-night trading area

To explore the opportunities for your business, see our late night trading DCP summary map. This will tell you if you’re in a late-night trading area.

You can also call 02 9265 9333 and ask to speak to a duty planner. Or make an appointment for general planning advice.

Read more about the development application process and check how to modify an existing development consent.

Some fees apply to change trading hours

We charge a fee to cover processing costs. This varies for each situation. It’s best to call us on 02 9265 9333. We can provide you with a quote on the potential costs for processing your application.

Changing your trading hours doesn't change your liquor licence

The NSW Government’s liquor licensing and lockout laws continue to apply.

For businesses that intend to serve alcohol, both planning approval and a liquor licence is needed.

If your business is located in the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct or the Kings Cross Precinct, it will still be subject to the lockout laws.

But there are many areas outside of these precincts where licensed venues can now apply to extend their trading hours. Information about liquor licensing is available from Liquor and Gaming NSW.

Business opportunities in Alexandria’s new late night cultural precinct

The updated planning controls enable up to 24-hour trading to encourage new arts, culture and entertainment businesses. This is located in a heritage warehouse area in north Alexandria.

We don’t own the land in this area. This means new businesses will have to speak to the landowner about their plans in order to find an appropriate location in the precinct.

If you’re interested in opening a cultural or performance business in the new precinct, it’s best to speak to one of our cultural strategy advisors.

Play your part in shaping Sydney’s nightlife

Your business could play a part in shaping the future of Sydney’s nightlife. If you have more questions, or would like to apply to extend your trading hours, learn more about the changes.

You can also make an appointment with a duty planner. The duty planner will provide general planning advice on your next steps. You may need to have a pre-development application meeting if the proposal is complex, large or may have significant impacts.

Also check out our business support grants. They can help you program new activities at night or upgrade your space to help get your business live music ready.

Published 16 July 2019, updated 29 February 2024