On Tuesday night the Inner West Council voted unanimously to explore giving Newtown’s King Street later trading hours and fewer restrictions on hosting cultural events.
A proposal to harmonise regulations on King Street was also on the agenda. The popular strip is currently governed by two different councils: the City of Sydney and the Inner West Council. This gives the two sides of the street different rules on everything from paid parking and paved footpaths to outdoor dining.
Having different opening hours for each side of the street would cause issues for businesses, so the Inner West Council voted to make venue regulations the same as the City of Sydney’s.
Another proposal was to allow small music and arts performances at venues without the need for costly development approvals first.
Mayor Darcy Byrne said the current regulations leave many venues empty after dark. “If you are a business who is seeking to hold an acoustic music performance for 50 people, or a small theatre performance or comedy show, you need to go through the same development application process as a hotel or licensed premises that wants to become an entertainment venue … this is prohibitive,” he said.
Mayor Byrne said the proposed changes would help to protect Newtown’s cultural richness. “By encouraging small-scale arts and cultural activity, that can be the antidote to the beer bar culture of Kings Cross.”
This comes after the City of Sydney began a community discussion to allow all shops and retail businesses across the city to stay open from 7am until 10pm. Venues serving food and drink would still need council approval for later trading hours.
City of Sydney Councillor Jess Scully said in a Facebook video the current laws had become outdated after lockout laws were introduced. “We know that a lot has changed in the city in the last five years,” she said.
But the Inner West Council did not consider any changes to how noise issues would be dealt with. New residential developments can still restrict how live-music venues operate.