BY JOHN MOYLE
Late nights out in Sydney are just about to get a bit later thanks to the City of Sydney’s Late Night Trading Development Control Plan.
Produced in response to more than 10,000 submissions from businesses, residents and visitors, the new plans will extend trading hours for cafes, shops and bars across a large area of inner Sydney.
“The controls include creating a zone in the city centre where businesses can trade 24 hours a day, stretching from Darling Harbour in the west to Hyde Park in the east and Central Station in the south,” a City of Sydney spokesperson said.
“We hope the new controls will encourage existing businesses to apply to extend their trading hours, and for new businesses to apply to open across the city.”
Inner city late-night precincts
Newly extended precincts will be activated in Chippendale, Waterloo and Surry Hills, with new late night trading areas in Green Square town centre, Barangaroo, Walsh Bay, Danks Street, the East Village shopping centre in Zetland and a new cultural precinct created in North Alexandria.
City of Sydney Councillor Jess Scully also sits as a co-chair on the CoS’s Nightlife and Creative Advisory Panel that was convened in 2018.
Councillor Scully said, “The consultation for this piece of work has been undertaken in two phases. Firstly, broad consultation to receive general input to help form proposals, and secondly, public exhibition to receive specific feedback on proposals.”
More than 90 per cent of the respondents were in support, while further consultation was held across local and state departments.
Residents in Chippendale’s Abercrombie, Balfour and Meagher streets did not support the new measures and will be excluded from any changes.
City staff consulted with police representatives from various area commands, the Inner West Council, NSW Liquor and Gaming, NSW Health alcohol and drug prevention teams and the NSW Night Time Economy Taskforce.
But the elephant that walked into the bar are the lockout laws that still preclude Kings Cross and large parts of the CBD.
While the City of Sydney’s late-night policies are welcomed across most of the city, any changes must be viewed through the prism of the lockout laws that have hit venues hard across Kings Cross and a large part of the CBD.
After the recent NSW elections, the lockout laws are now overseen by Victor Dominello, Minister for Finance, Services and Property.
“A comprehensive evaluation (of the lockout laws) by Liquor and Gaming NSW is due to commence soon and be completed this year,” Minister Dominello said.
“Since the last independent review, we have relaxed the lockout to 2am and last drinks to 3.30am for live entertainment venues in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross precincts, with 34 venues now operating with later times.”
Dane Gorrel is the co-owner of the Cali Club on Bayswater Road and Club 77 on William Street, both clubs being within the lockout zone.
Dane says it is not just the imposts of the lockouts, such as extra security for scanning, but the inexact City of Sydney noise regulations.
“On Sundays we fall within less than 250 patrons, which the City of Sydney say they are supporting,” Dane Gorrel said.
“We did a live music event at the Cali Club that started at 4pm and finished at 7pm and we received complaints about noise and the Council had a chat to us and we haven’t been able to do that event again.”
Melbourne introduced lockouts from June to September in 2008 but quickly overturned them by introducing remedial policies that saw its night-time economy increase by $197 million in turnover to $3.2 billion.
“The City of Melbourne has been working hard over the years to activate the city at night and create more diverse entertainment opportunities after dark,” Councillor Susan Riley, City of Melbourne, said.
“The availability of 24-hour transport on weekends and more family-friendly entertainment means that there are more reasons to enjoy the city at night.”
Late-night transport critical
The lack of late-night and early morning transport was a major contributing factor to the problems in Kings Cross and the CBD.
Councillor Scully said, “We focused on creating new late-night trading areas in places that will be supported by current bus, ferry and rail transport and the proposed new George Street Light rail and Sydney Metro.”
Over in Redfern, Jed Clarke runs The Dock and is pleased with the changes.
“As soon as we heard the news we got everything ready for our application in June so we can trade to 3am,” Mr Clarke said.
“There is a huge demand around here as there would be three hundred people looking for somewhere to go after midnight.”
All proposals are subject to a DA process and could take up to three months.