By Andrew Starke

Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, has reaffirmed her commitment to the small bar sector, claiming opportunities created by her office are ‘revitalising’ the city.

The mayor cited the recent official opening of the Absinthe Salon in Surry Hills as the sort of small bar the reworked Liquor Act had hoped to encourage.

“Small bars are a key component of my efforts to revitalise the City and bring life and variety back to our laneways and small streets,” Moore said. “Sydney is a sophisticated city, and it needs venues that have style and individuality.”

Specifically, the mayor favours intimate spaces over ‘large beer barns’.

Moore said she was pleased by the high level of interest in new laneway businesses and small bars, particularly given the current economic climate.

Since the July 2008 legislative changes which made running a small bar feasible, the city has approved over 20 small bars across the Local Government Area.

“This is extraordinary progress in just 18 months,” she said. “Sydney’s quick uptake of small bars is ahead of other Australian cities over the initial period following reform of liquor licensing laws.”

According to the mayor’s research, Melbourne in the mid 1980s had only eight applications state-wide in the first 12 months, while in Perth only three opened in the first 12 months following changes in 2007.

In 2009 the City hosted free seminars on opening small bars.

Around 350 potential small bar owners heard presentations from the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing, existing small bar operators, City Planning and Regulatory Services and Safe City.

City staff, Police, APRA (Music Licensing), the Department of Planning, financial institutions and other specialist consultants provided advice about financing, legal and compliance issues, planning and design.

“I am continuing to advocate to the State government for a streamlined application process to encourage more small bars,” said Moore. “I hope the City’s small bars policies will improve the range and diversity of meeting places for Sydneysiders and our visitors.”

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The Shout Team

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