In this week’s instalment of citizen journalism, Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, proposes further research be carried out by the Liquor Licence Taskforce to the Sydney City Council.
“On 11 May 2009, Council endorsed two research reports that examined the cumulative impacts and saturation of late-night licensed premises: Late Night Trading: Community Perceptions Study and Alcohol Related Crime in City of Sydney Local Government Area.
This research was publically exhibited and submissions will be reported to Council in 2010.
Tonight I seek Council’s endorsement for further research in and around the City’s late night management precincts.
The research will provide important evidence on capacity and land use that is needed to guide further legislative, policy and precinct management reform, especially to establish cumulative impacts.
In response to my requests for action on alcohol-related violence in the inner-city, the former Premier, Nathan Rees, established the Sydney Liquor Licence Taskforce on 25 June 2009.
The Sydney Liquor Taskforce reports to the Premier and me as Lord Mayor, and is made up of City, Government and industry participants.
The Taskforce is drafting reform proposals to reduce alcohol-related violence within the freeze areas. The proposals address issues relating to the public domain, venue management, and patron responsibility.
I hope a further announcement will soon be made on this work.
In June, Nathan Rees also announced a 12-month freeze period along Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross; Oxford Street, Darlinghurst; and areas of southern George Street.
During the freeze, existing venues are not able to increase their trading hours or patron capacities.
No new liquor licences will be given to pubs, bars, clubs, nightclubs or liquor stores and no development approval can be given to increase venue capacity or hours of operation.
On 21 September 2009, Council also resolved not to grant new or expanded footway approvals in the area affected by the freeze. This will prevent venue operators from increasing their outdoor seating area capacity.
I want to use the freeze period to establish new and long-term strategies to manage the negative impacts of licensed premises in some areas.
Understanding our late night management precincts
To fully address the challenges in our late night management precincts, we need a better understanding of how many people come into these areas late at night, as well as the types of premises that are open at different times of the night.
Based on advice from City of Sydney staff participating in the Sydney Liquor Taskforce, I propose the City commission new research about patron volumes and behaviours.
Understanding these patterns will assist in making decisions about the type, location and level of infrastructure we need to service these areas, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights when there are a large number of visitors to the City’s late night management precincts. For example:
• are our footways wide enough?
• is there enough transport so visitors can get home at the end of an evening out?
• is outdoor dining in the best possible location?
• is there enough room for the number of people?
• is there enough security?
• are there enough bus stops and taxi ranks?
• do we have enough public toilets accessible late at night?
Data collected during the research will be analysed to define times and areas with the highest levels of activity. The data will also be used as a benchmark to measure changes in pedestrian and land use activity over time. This will allow the City to measure the effectiveness of interventions undertaken by the City, Government or other
The research methodology is comparable with that of Ealing and Camden Town in the United Kingdom, both of which have established ‘Cumulative Impact Precincts’ to cap the number of licensed premises in selected areas deemed to be at saturation. This research is vital to establish an evidence base to underpin changes to the liquor
licensing regime in NSW.
The research will also give the City a better understanding of what exists in our late night economy. Growing academic research is revealing that more diversity in an evening economy attracts a more diverse population, which has a moderating effect on violence later in the night.
The research will measure pedestrian activity, land use diversity and environmental factors in Kings Cross, Oxford Street and the Southern CBD over four nights in early 2010 and again in winter 2010. The research will collect data in four ways:
• counts of pedestrian movements past specific points in the three precincts;
• counts of instances of anti-social behaviour in defined sub-areas of these precincts,
ie, specific city blocks/intersections;
• observation of key environmental factors such as crowding, availability of public
space, police presence and business diversity over key times of the night; and
• intercept survey of a sample of pedestrians regarding their (i) trip origins and
destinations, (ii) modes of transport, (iii) location of residence, and (iv) activities in the
precinct (eg, socialising, dining, working, and shopping).
Depending on the outcome of this initial research, it is proposed that the work be repeated every two years to monitor progress and changes. The City’s work will be the first Australian example of this type of research.
The methodology has been reviewed by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) and interested academics. Universities, BOCSAR and other city councils have expressed interest in the methodology and findings of the research.
We will seek support from NSW Transport and Infrastructure for some elements of the research.
It is resolved that Council:
(A) endorse the need for a solid evidence base to guide future City directions on the management of late night management precincts, and that this evidence underpins the pursuit of legislative, policy and precinct management changes;
(B) endorse the allocation of up to $120,000 from general contingency funds to commence research into our late night management precincts; and
(C) note that funding will be budgeted for 2010/11 for additional research during winter 2010.”
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