A new blueprint released by the NSW Treasury yesterday aims to establish Sydney as a world-class 24-hour economy, recommending fewer restrictions on liquor licensing and live music, extended opening hours for cultural institutions and more late-night public transport options. The Sydney 24-Hour Economy Strategy aims to rebuild the Greater Sydney area’s after-dark industries following the roll-back of lockout laws in January.
A 24-hour economy coordinator general will be appointed to bring together local and state governments and their agencies, as well as private businesses, and ensure they are cohesively working towards the same goals. A network of 24-hour economy hubs – with late-night retail, food and drink trading, and cultural activities – will be identified so funding, policies and pilot programs can be directed into those areas.
Under the new rubric, footpaths and roadside parking spaces will be reclaimed for outdoor dining, art installations and mini parks. Part of the plan is to create “micro-festivals” to give artists more opportunities and spaces to perform. Lighting in the hubs will also be improved to illuminate parks, buildings, laneways, monuments, artworks and footpaths.
The government will also explore ways to make it easier for musicians, artists, poets and dancers to perform in under-utilised retail and commercial spaces. Those spaces could be used for exhibitions, co-working and pop-up stores. There will also be strategies aimed at breathing life back into “culturally significant” theatres and cinemas that have shut down due to diminishing profits.
Under the plan, liquor licence applications would be streamlined and policies would actively support small bars and micro-breweries. The government will also work with councils to find ways to simplify the application process for running pop-up bars and food trucks.
Live music and noise regulations will also be reviewed in an attempt to balance the needs of local residents and support 24-hour hubs where live entertainment takes place. In good news for venue owners whose businesses have suffered due to residential complaints, the government will evaluate the application of “existing use” rules on venues, and identify ways in which prospective buyers of residential properties can be alerted to the fact that they’ll be near or within a live-music hub.
The blueprint also addresses a long-held concern of many Sydney residents and businesses: that it’s difficult to get around the city late at night. Public transport options could be improved via greater frequency of services to the 24-hour hubs and residential areas.
Much of the plan has been inspired by initiatives in other cities around the world, including San Francisco’s mobile parks, New York’s subway station art installations, and the UK’s Purple Flag program, which identifies hubs where people can have a safe and entertaining night out.
The blueprint comes after the City of Sydney Council voted last year to make Sydney and surrounding cultural precincts such as Alexandria and Glebe 24-hour hubs. Lord Mayor Clover Moore welcomed the news, posting on Facebook that the strategy will implement many of the recommendations made by the council, and that she looked forward to working together with the state government on establishing a nightlife scene “we can all be proud of”.
The Lord Mayor of the City of Paramatta, Bob Dwyer, also welcomed the news. “We want Parramatta to be a shining example of a 24-hour economy with diverse business offerings, late-night events, and vibrant experiences,” he said in a statement.
Read the full report here.