Nightlife In The Inner City

November 1st, 2019 - by Brad Gillespie

The City of Sydney is looking to revive its nightlife with a late-night trading plan, allowing some businesses to trade around the clock.

And we’re not just talking about bars and pubs - shops and businesses of all kinds are affected by the changes.

Their proposed changes to the planning controls were approved in May 2019. Here’s what it means for those living in the inner-city.

What is behind the changes?

The City is striving to overhaul the night-life economy away from young people going out for a drink, to a mature crowd of shoppers and diners. By 2030 they hope that 40% of operating businesses at night time will be shops.

In 2018, the City of Sydney held a review (the first in a decade!) of the current planning controls, which determine the opening-hours of “commercial” venues.

"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, Clover Moore said.

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

Some feel that the 2014 lockout laws dimmed the lights on Sydney’s vibrant nightlife and the licensed venues that are impacted by the lockout would still be subject to the last-drink measures currently in place. But the proposed changes are broader than the licensing debate.

What’s the plan?

There are five key changes that have been announced by the council:

1. A 24-hour CBD
The late-night management area along George Street will be extended across the city area and the trading hours will be able to be increased to 24 hours.

2. More late-night venues in local centres
Small neighbourhood bars and other low-impact venues will be allowed to trade until 2am. Only venues with entry on the main street – and not in a residential area – will be able to extend their hours.

3. New urban renewal precincts
The City of Sydney are hoping to inject some additional late-night areas to light up the city, this includes Barangaroo, Walsh Bay, Green Square town centre, Danks Street, East Village shopping centre and an arts focused industrial heritage warehouse area in Alexandria.

4. Extend existing areas
The City of Sydney council also says they will recognise venues in Chippendale, Redfern, Surry Hills and Llankelly Place in Potts Point, which have emerged since the planning controls were reviewed in 2007.

5. Encourage performance, culture and unlicensed businesses
It’s not all about licensed venues either - unlicensed business, like bookshops and hairdressers, will be able to stay open for 24 hours in city living or late night management areas and until 2am in local centres. Performance venues, such as theatres, concert halls and cinemas, which can fit up to 250 patrons, will be categorised as lower-risk premises and be allowed an additional trading hour at closing time or following a performance.

Businesses that are in the designated areas can extend their hours by applying for the relevant development application on the council website.

What will change in the inner city?

One of the areas that will receive a revamp is Alexandria. While Alexandria (and nearby Rosebery) has already become a dining and foodie hotspot, it will have a new 24-hour trading area with an arts, cultural and entertainment focus. Ideally this will take place in the heritage warehouse precinct in north Alexandria, between McEvoy Street to the north and Alexandria Canal to the south. The distance from residential areas ensures that this precinct is ideal for live performances, creative and cultural uses.

There are also plans to extend hours in the Green Square town centre, Danks Street in Waterloo and around the East Village shopping centre in Zetland. These areas are already hotspots in their own right: The Green Square Library, for example, is becoming known as a cultural hub and hosted events from the Sydney Writers Festival.

How will it impact on locals?

In some ways, this decision confirms what we already know about the inner city. The area is a focal point for up-and-coming culture. Rosebery is already known as a dining hub, Dank Street in Waterloo has some of Sydney’s best cafés and stores, and Alexandria is very much a furniture shopper’s dream.

The quiet residential streets will still stay quiet, but locals will have more places to go at night with less reason to leave their vibrant, happening neighbourhood.