New rules allowing city centre businesses, shops and restaurants to trade late into the night could take effect from next month after Sydneysiders overwhelmingly backed a major overhaul of the city’s late-night planning controls.
The City of Sydney’s new controls include some of the biggest changes to city planning in a decade. They allow for:
- 24-hour trading across the entire city centre
- shops, businesses and low-impact food and drink venues on major 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
- venues holding live performances and creative events in late-night trading areas to trade for an extra hour.
The development control plan will be considered by Council on Monday 13 May. If approved, businesses will be able to apply for the new trading hours through a development application process.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the changes have been developed in response to feedback from thousands of residents, businesses and visitors.
“Our late-night trading development control plan is the result of an unprecedented call from the community for practical action to help boost Sydney’s nightlife and economy,” the Lord Mayor said.
“Last year, we held our first review in over a decade of the planning controls that determine where and when night-time activity can take place in Sydney.
“More than 10,000 people told us they want Sydney to have a diverse and exciting night-time economy with events and activities for people of all ages and interests. What they don’t want is a city that is unsafe or that shuts down as soon as the sun goes down.
“The changes we proposed in response to this feedback strike a balance between supporting well-managed venues to continue to trade and thrive, and managing any impacts they may have on local neighbourhoods.
“They also respond to the very strong demand for a vibrant, late-night city, and set the foundations for Sydney to become one of the world’s best 24-hour cities.
“After taking our draft plan back to the community for more than two months of public consultation, 85 per cent of submissions received supported the new controls and their economic, cultural and social benefits. “In their submissions, more than 900 people told us the changes would help revitalise and diversify Sydney’s nightlife, improve our standing as a global city, support local businesses, provide more opportunities for shift workers and visitors or encourage a safe night-time environment.
“I’m pleased so many Sydneysiders have joined us in backing our city’s night-time economy, which employs over 35,000 people in 5,000 businesses and generates more than $4 billion for the NSW economy each year.”
The key proposals in the new 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. Currently, most venues in this area may trade until 5am with approval. Allowing 24-hour trading across the entire city centre may reduce issues such as crowding, queuing and noise at existing hotspots. These businesses will also be able to take advantage of the future Sydney metro, which will operate 21 hours a day and include four stops in the new zone, and the city centre light rail.
- Later hours in local centres – trading hours for low-impact businesses along village main streets such as Crown Street, Redfern Street, Union Street and Glebe Point Road would be extended from midnight to 2am, to align with recent changes to NSW small bar laws. The new 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, Walsh Bay, 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 gyms, 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 and west Surry Hills 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 permitted one additional trading hour at closing time on a trial basis. All other licensed venues that host performances would be permitted one extra trading hour at closing time on nights when they provide at least 45 minutes of performance.
Michael Rodrigues, chair of the Night Time Industries Association, a new industry group representing Sydney’s hospitality, live performance, arts and cultural sectors, welcomed the new controls.
“Tourism, business, a strong economy and lifestyle satisfaction are all influenced by the health of our night-time offering, and its current state leaves a lot to be desired,” Mr Rodrigues said.
“We need to pull every lever possible to bring a vibrant, diverse, safe and fun nightlife back to our city. The acknowledgement that night-time business plays a vital role in the cultural life and identity of our city is important, and recognised in this work.
“There is no silver bullet, but these proposed changes are one very important part of the solution.”
Chris Lamont from NSW Business Chamber said the chamber believed changes to the development control plans would result in a positive outcome for Sydney’s night-time economy.
“Sydney’s nightlife is a significant contributor to the economy, social fabric and culture, helping shape our city as Australia’s most significant tourist destination. It also promotes employment and investment, and helps encourage the public to participate in trade, culture, and the arts beyond standard work hours,” Mr Lamont said.
‘The most attractive tourist destinations are those that offer an array of entertainment options for different ages, cultures and lifestyles, including families. This requires private as well as public attractions, and night-time leisure activities.
“Changes to the development control plan to expand night-time activity in the city centre is a positive step toward growing our city while managing impacts appropriately. We particularly welcome changes to the plan that will expand traditional ‘night-time spots’ to locations like Green Square.”
If the changes are approved by Council, they will take effect next month. Businesses will need to apply for the new trading hours through a development application process, which is notified to the community. They will be required to demonstrate how they will mitigate sound impacts on surrounding neighbours in its application.
This may involve noise assessments that can recommend soundproofing and other mitigation measures. Applications for extended hours will be assessed against new controls requiring venues to demonstrate 'good management’. Changes will also be subject to the NSW Government’s lockout laws where they apply.
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