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The City of Sydney's Plan to Help Revive Sydney's Nightlife Has Been Given the Green Light

24-hour trading in the CBD, later opening hours for bars in local areas and a brand new cultural precinct in Alexandria have all been given the go-ahead.
By Lauren Vadnjal and Samantha Teague
May 14, 2019
By Lauren Vadnjal and Samantha Teague
May 14, 2019

Ordering a cocktail on Crown Street at 1am, stopping by a bookshop in the CBD at 4am, or partying and painting at a 24-hour Alexandria cultural precinct are all possibilities in the near future, thanks to the City of Sydney's new late-night trading plan.

The plan, which was first proposed by council last November — and has since received feedback from over 60,000 Sydney residents — was unanimously endorsed at a council meeting last night, Monday, May 14. And it means big things for Sydney's late-night economy.

As well as the above, the plan allows for 24-hour trading for unlicensed CBD businesses (currently most can trade until 5am), including bookshops, hairdressers and unlicensed eateries. Outside of the CBD, 'low impact' businesses — including bars, restaurants, shops, galleries and cultural institutions — located in areas such as Glebe Point Road, Crown Street, Unions Street and Redfern Street can have their opening hours extended from midnight till 2am. Some live music venues and theatres will also be able to score an extra hour of trading on the nights they have a gig or performance on.

In addition to this, the City will establish a brand new 24-hour cultural precinct in a heritage warehouse in the industrial part of Alexandria, on the corner of McEvoy and Wyndham streets. This will house creatives and host exhibitions, parties and gigs, and service the growing population around Alexandria and Green Square.

Leticia Almeida.

Of course, the City of Sydney can't change the lockout laws — that's the job of the NSW Government — but these changes will allow businesses to gain at least a few more freedoms within the state's restrictions. The city hopes that, with these proposals, it can safeguard Sydney's nightlife culture for the future, whether the lockout laws stay in place or not,

"It's time for Sydney to become a 24 hour city and we've now given businesses the opportunity to open around the clock," said Lord Mayor Clover Moore in a statement. "The City of Sydney is doing its part. I hope these changes encourage the NSW Government to reconsider the lockout laws and help Sydney regain its status as one of the world's premier late night destinations."

The NSW Government has — surprisingly, with pro-lockout law Premier Gladys Berejiklian in power — recently changed two liquor licences, allowing Chippendale favourite Freda's to trade until 4am and long-standing Petersham pub the Oxford Tavern to play live music till 3am. Both of these venues, however, are outside the lockout zone.

While a recent year-long parliamentary inquiry into the state of Sydney's music and nightlife economy found that the industry was in "peril" due to the NSW Government's history of neglect, and lack of funding, hopefully, we're about to see some of this damage (slowly) reversed. Next big steps to its revival would include the State Government winding back, or stepping down ,on the lockouts and introducing other late-night infrastructure, like 24-hour transport on weekends.

For now, City of Sydney's new late-night planning rules will no doubt have an impact on Sydney's nighttime economy — but it won't all happen at once. Businesses in the CBD and surrounding villages that would like to extend their opening hours — inline with the plan — will need to have proven good behaviour and submit an application. We'll keep you updated as these start to progress.

Businesses in the CBD and surrounding late-night trading areas can apply for extended licences through the City of Sydney. We'll keep you updated with these and the progress of Alexandria's 24-hour cultural precinct. To read more about the plan, head to the website.

Top image: Frankie's Pizza by Katje Ford.

Published on May 14, 2019 by Lauren Vadnjal


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