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Plans unveiled for a more diverse, late-night city

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Lord Mayor Clover Moore has released a bold new plan to jump start Sydney's nightlife and economy.

The proposed changes are outlined in the City of Sydney's draft late-night trading planning controls, revealing some of the biggest changes to red tape and city planning in a decade.

The proposals include:

  • extending 24-hour trading across the entire city centre (CBD)
  • allowing shops, businesses and low-impact food and drink venues on high streets to trade until 2am
  • new late-night trading areas in some of the city's fastest-growing neighbourhoods, such as Barangaroo and Green Square
  • a new cultural precinct in an industrial part of Alexandria
  • allowing venues that hold performances and creative events in late-night trading areas to trade for an extra hour.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the proposed changes were the result of an unprecedented response from the community to the City of Sydney's first review in over a decade of the planning controls that determine where, when and until what time night-time activity can take place in Sydney.

"More than 10,000 people gave us their feedback and the overwhelming majority said they want Sydney to have a diverse and exciting night-time economy with events and activities for people of all ages and interests," the Lord Mayor said.

"What they do not want is a city that is unsafe or that shuts down as soon as the sun goes down.

"The changes we are proposing to our controls manage the balance between allowing well-managed venues to continue to trade, and any impacts on local neighbourhoods.

"They respond to the very strong demand for a thriving, late-night city and set the foundations for a truly 24-hour Sydney into the future.

"This is important because Sydney's night-time economy is critical to our city's future, employing over 35,000 people and worth more than $4 billion to the NSW economy each year."

The key proposals in the draft development control plan are:

  • A 24-hour city centre - a zone where businesses can trade 24 hours a day would stretch from Darling Harbour in the west to Hyde Park in the east and Central Station in the south. Most venues in this area can currently trade until 5am. Allowing 24-hour trading across the entire city centre (CBD) may reduce issues such as crowding, queuing and noise at existing hotspots. These businesses will also be able to take advantage of the city centre light rail and the future Sydney Metro, which will operate 21 hours a day and include four stops in the new zone.
  • Later hours in local centres - trading hours for businesses along village main streets such as Crown Street, Redfern Street, Union Street and Glebe Point Road would be extended from 12am to 2am, to align with recent changes to NSW small bar laws. The new trading hours would only apply if patrons enter and exit the venue from a main street and not a laneway or residential area. This proposal supports the strong community desire for more late-night options in local areas.
  • New areas for new communities - new late-night trading areas would be established in some of the city's fastest-growing neighbourhoods, including Barangaroo, the Green Square town centre, Danks Street in Waterloo and around the East Village shopping centre in Zetland. The proposed trading hours for businesses in these new areas vary depending on type, capacity and potential impact.
  • Extended hours for unlicensed businesses - a new category of trading hours would be established for unlicensed shops, like bookstores and clothing shops, and businesses, like banks, drycleaners and hairdressers. This would allow them to trade up to 24 hours a day in the city centre and other busy inner-city areas, until 2am on village high streets, and until midnight in other areas. Later trading hours for these types of businesses would attract a wider range of people out at night for different activities, helping create a safer and more balanced night-time economy.
  • A new cultural precinct in Alexandria - a new 24-hour trading area with an arts, cultural and entertainment focus would be encouraged in a heritage warehouse precinct in north Alexandria, between McEvoy Street to the north and Alexandra Canal to the south. The area's industrial character, proximity to existing and future public transport services, and distance from residential areas make it ideal for live performance, creative and cultural uses.
  • Expanding existing areas - existing late-night trading areas in Chippendale, Redfern, west Surry Hills and Llankelly Place in Potts Point would be expanded to include nearby streets with a similar character and businesses that have opened since the controls were last reviewed. Low-impact venues in these areas would be able to trade until 2am providing entry and exit is onto a main street.
  • Additional hours for performance and culture - dedicated performance venues would be allowed up to 250 patrons and be permitted one additional trading hour at closing time on a trial period basis. All other licensed venues that host performances would be permitted one additional trading hour at closing time on nights when they provide at least 45 minutes of performance.

CEO of Sydney Fringe Festival and co-chair of the City's nightlife and creative sector advisory panel, Kerri Glasscock, welcomed the proposals.

"These draft planning controls reflect the changing needs of our city and acknowledge that our work hours and our lives are different than they once were," Ms Glasscock said.

"The dream of a vibrant and diverse night-time offering can only be made possible with regulatory reform. For too long, small businesses and the cultural sector have been actively prohibited by regulation.

"It's wonderful to see a local council proposing changes that actively encourage diverse and unique offerings not only in the CBD but on our village high streets.

"While the night-time economy is important to the financial wellbeing of our city, it also makes up the fabric of who we are as a city, our local stories and the unique offerings we have for our residents and visitors.

"Sydney is an incredible city, filled with wonderful voices, and it is imperative we enable it to reach its potential as one of the great cities of the world through supportive policy like this."

The draft planning controls will be considered by Council on 19 November. If approved, they will be on public exhibition from 27 November to 8 February at cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/council/your-say

If the proposals are adopted, businesses will need to apply for the new trading hours through a development application process. Changes will be subject to the NSW Government's lockout laws where they apply.

For media inquiries or images, contact Keeley Irvin.
Phone 0448 005 718 or email kirvin@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Julia Lenton.
Phone 0410 748 039 or email jlenton@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

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