The council voted unanimously in the biggest changes to planning controls in a decade.

Buying a book or drinking wine after midnight might soon become a reality after City of Sydney last night passed a plan to overhaul the city’s planning rules. The city’s councillors unanimously supported the changes in its monthly council meeting, after Lord Mayor Clover Moore proposed the reforms in November.

The changes mean unlicensed businesses such as bookshops, clothing stores, florists and hairdressers will be able to stay open 24 hours in the city centre, an area spanning Hyde Park, Darling Harbour and Central Station. The trading hours for bars and restaurants on Crown Street in Surry Hills, Union Street in Pyrmont, Glebe Point Road and Redfern Street will be extended until 2am, and late-night trading areas will be established around the neighbourhoods of Barangaroo, Green Square, Walsh Bay, Danks Street and Waterloo.

An industrial area of Alexandria will also be turned into an arts-focused hub. Venues in late-night areas dedicated to performance – including theatres, concert halls and cinemas – with 250 patrons will be designated “low-risk” and given an extra hour’s trading time. Other venues in late-night areas that host performances will also be candidates for an extra hour’s trading as long as they provide a performance on the night. All venues will still be subject to the lockout laws for their areas, but the council hopes these changes will encourage the NSW Government to reconsider the laws and re-establish Sydney as one of the world’s top late-night destinations.

The changes to the planning laws represent the biggest changes in 10 years and come after residents, businesses and visitors were given the opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions on the current and future trading of the city. More than 85 per cent of the submissions to the draft plan supported the new allowances.

It’s hoped the changes will revitalise the city’s after-dark scene, reduce crime and give a boost to the night-time economy, which a report by Deloitte says is losing $16 billion a year thanks to the lockout laws and lack of arts, culture, retail and entertainment after hours.

“I’m pleased that council has unanimously backed this proposal to give retailers more flexibility, to give visitors more late-night options and to enhance our reputation on the world stage,” Moore said in a statement. “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.”

In response to concerns from Chippendale residents, the council agreed to a restriction of the 24-hour trading hours rule. Residents were particularly concerned about noise from patrons and businesses on Abercrombie, Balfour and Meagher streets and did not support late-night trading after 10pm. The existing system of approvals for trading will remain.

The changes voted in don’t automatically mean businesses can stay open 24 hours. Moore says businesses who want to extend their trading hours will need to apply via a development application process, and they will be subject to trial periods. Businesses will need to show how they will mitigate the impact of noise on their neighbours.

The changes will come into effect from June 1.

Published on 14 May 2019

by Che-Marie Trigg