City News

Footpath dining freeze lifted

The City of Sydney has reacted to the decline of business on Oxford St
by lifting the controversial freeze on footpath dining. Weeks after touting the night time economy as a key area of change, the move is hoped to reinvigorate trade along Oxford St and contribute to a safer night time experience.

A spokesperson for the City of Sydney said: “Footpath dining will contribute to the revitalisation of Oxford St and help diversify its night time economy from an over reliance on bars and hotels.

“It also acknowledges the recent reduction in assaults, antisocial
behaviour and other late night trading related issues in this area.”

The freeze was first announced in October 2009 as a response to the
negative impacts of licensed premises, late night trading and escalating alcohol related violence. Business owners along Oxford St are widely relieved about the decision. Owner of the Beauchamp Hotel on Oxford St, Sue Ritchie said: “Footpath dining along Oxford St is
essential. Nothing is more inviting than a place that has got people out on the street. It softens the environment.”

Ms Ritchie said footpath dining was a help rather than hinderance in the effort to curb the disruption of late night drinking.

“If they are well managed, it’s an enhancement of safety and security on the street because you’ve got people out there rather than just empty corridors. If it’s not well managed, I think the idea is to
address individual cases, rather than blanket bans.”

Council had idenified Kings Cross, George St and the strip from Hyde Park to Taylor Square as subject to the freeze.

Ms Ritchie said Oxford St’s comparison with Kings Cross was unfair.
“I don’t think Oxford St has got nearly the problems of other areas,” she said. “There is certainly an expansion of café’s and small bars that are lively. It suits Oxford St with its focus on creativity, with two of the most prominent art schools in the country.”

Living Sydney representative and co-owner of The Record Store in
Darlinghurst, Stephan Gyory said: “It’s breathing life back into Oxford
St with a thousand little breaths and this is the first of them. It’s all about milking the next 50 days [prior to September’s Council elections]. Clove rMoore seems inclined to be very generous at the moment.”

Business owners on Oxford St are hopeful of further change and continue to campaign for the removal of footpath dining fees and eradication of the liquor freeze applying to new businesses.