City of Sydney planning reforms to open up new creative spaces and support small business and performance venues

Later trading for shops and businesses, more small-scale cultural activities and better sound management of nightlife and live music venues are on the way – with the City of Sydney announcing a suite of planning reforms.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the planning changes were part of the City’s ongoing work to diversify and energise Sydney’s night-time economy, which will be crucial to post-pandemic recovery.

While we’ve been working on these reforms for some time, they’ve become more important than ever – making it easier for businesses to open longer and with a more diverse offering that will help our community get back on its feet as we recover from the pandemic, the Lord Mayor said.

“The City’s $4 billion night time economy has faced many challenges over the last decade, including lockouts and the unprecedented impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. In that time we’ve been working with the community to establish our shared vision for a safe, diverse and lively night time economy.

“We know that venue owners and managers want more certainty when presenting live music and performance, but also that residents who live in the city deserve a bit of peace and quiet – these planning changes will provide greater certainty for both venues and residents, encouraging entertainment while supporting communities.

“Applying for development consent to extend trading hours or put on small performances and events can be difficult, so our new planning controls reduce the current red tape and make life for our businesses and creative sector a lot easier.

“We want to see cultural activity in unexpected locations – stand-up comedy in bookshops, or live music in hairdressing salons. And we want to make it easier for our businesses, from hardware stores to grocers, to be able to open later if they’d like to.

“With 1.30am lockouts lifted from the city centre and along Oxford Street, we are looking at what a post-coronavirus night time economy could look like. We have an opportunity to reimagine Sydney at night and put in place new planning controls to to realise a more diverse and exciting nightlife.

“I encourage anyone interested in Sydney’s night time economy to tune into our Committee Meeting on Monday and, when the plans go live on public exhibition, give us their feedback.”

The Open and Creative Planning Reforms and new Draft Sydney Development Control Plan will be considered by the Transport, Heritage and Planning Committee on Monday 22 June. They will then be voted on by the City of Sydney Council on Monday 29 June for public exhibition and then forwarded to the NSW Government for approval. The Transport, Heritage and Planning Committee will be livestreamed on the City of Sydney website:

The proposed reforms would allow for:

  • Later trading for shops and businesses: trading will be allowed from 7am to 10pm, seven days per week without needing further development consent in areas such as the city centre and village high streets, such as Oxford Street in Darlinghurst, Macleay Street in Potts Point, King Street in Newtown, Crown Street in Surry Hills, Redfern Street in Redfern and Glebe Point Road in Glebe. Licensed businesses and food and drink premises are not eligible and are still required to submit a development application.
  • Fair Management of Entertainment Sound, which includes: Identifying areas in the City that are most likely to be affected by entertainment sound, so that new developments within 50 metres of an existing venue or a 24-hour ‘late night management’ zone are designed, constructed and operated to mitigate sound impacts.
  • New and streamlined sound criteria to assess new developments against, which will provide better and more consistent guidance for new developments that either generate or are affected by entertainment sound.
  • More small scale cultural and creative activities, which includes:
    1. Some small scale cultural activities such as film, performance, talks, seminars and community events to be allowed without a DA in existing office, business, retail and community facility buildings in business and industrial zones. Criteria include limiting the number of days performances can be held to 26 days a year.
    2. Where cultural activities require a DA, new thresholds for a ‘low impact’ activity so that a quicker assessment can be made.
    3. Local Centres (B2 Zones) to be able to permit more creative work spaces in those village high streets, diversifying the retail offering and providing employment.
  • Changes to planning controls to enable more cultural and community uses in Erskineville Town Hall.

Peter J Snee

Peter is a British born creative, working in the live entertainment industry. He holds an honours degree in Performing Arts and has over 12 years combined work experience in producing, directing and managing artistic programs & events. Peter has traversed the UK, Europe and Australia pursuing his interest in theatre. He is inspired by great stories and passionately driven by pursuing opportunities to tell them.

Peter J Snee

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