By Andrew Starke
The City of Sydney council has gone back to the drawing board to determine a late night policy for Sydney’s CBD after repeatedly clashing with the NSW State Government and the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) on this issue.
A consultation process was started on Friday (April 29) with clubbers, venue operators, businesses, residents, retailers and city visitors all being canvassed for their ideas on the make-up of Sydney's night time economy.
"It's the first time this Council has looked at how the city transitions from day to night, looks at what services and infrastructure are required and looks at what sorts of activities will take place," said Lord Mayor Clover Moore.
"Many different groups of people want different things – clubbers want to be able to stay out late enjoying themselves in the latest venues, office workers want to be able to slip into a small bar after work, residents want to be feel safe and don't want to be overtly disturbed at night by the city life.”
The consultation for the policy is being launched with a roundtable meeting with industry leaders from liquor and gaming, restaurants, retail, transport, tourism, entertainment, arts, special events and a representative from a local resident group.
In February the Lord Mayor unveiled a new initiative that will see museums, cafes and art galleries as well as retail outlets in Sydney asked to stay open for longer.
With the recent shake-up in NSW state politics it is clearly an opportune time for the council to develop a wide reaching policy for the city's late night economy.
Preliminary research conducted in 2010 found that the City is experiencing visitor numbers equivalent to a major event every weekend.
Between 11am and 3am on a Saturday night more than 20,000 people – the capacity of Acer Arena – visited Darlinghurst Road in Kings Cross.
The highest pedestrian volumes were recorded in Bayswater Road between 1am and 2am with more than 2000 people moving through every 20 minutes – the equivalent of the weekday morning peak hour in Martin Place.
"Currently most cultural venues and cafes operate normal business hours and are not often open till late but things are slowly changing,” said Moore.
“Some pubs are now offering art exhibitions and cultural institutions are staying open later for special events.
"We need to foster this and encourage more choices. Our own Surry Hills Library is currently trialing late night openings and Australia Museum has just completed its overwhelmingly successful Jurassic Lounge.
“Having more options creates a safer and more balanced late night economy attracting a wider range of people into the city centre for a range of different activities, not just centered around the consumption of alcohol."
The City's Late Night City Policy public consultation will be open to everyone via:
- A public online forum at http://sydneyyoursay.com.au/nighteconomy;
- Community forums in Kings Cross and Potts Point, Surry Hills and Darlinghurst, the Central City and Pyrmont, Glebe and Newtown and the city south incorporating Green Square and Roseberry;
- Vox pops will be done on city streets to gather feedback and ideas from people visiting the city at night; and
- Targeted focus group sessions involving industry leaders such as Justin Hemmes and other community stakeholders.
In addition to the public consultation, the City has commissioned research looking at the value of the night time economy and assessing international evidence of what makes global cities safe at night.
"To make this a truly robust policy we need the community and industry's input coupled with solid evidence-based research,” said Moore.
"The City is preparing a comprehensive report examining pedestrian volumes, anti-social behaviour and how people enter and leave late night entertainment areas.”
This research is expected mid-year and will feed into the development of the late night policy.
It is expected that a draft discussion paper for the night time policy will go to Council later this year.
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