Oh, what a night!
Are new plans to revive the city’s nightlife about to impact on the pubs and clubs of the inner west?
The Sydney lockout laws were introduced in February 2014, in a bid to reduce alcohol-related crime. The legislation requires 1.30am lockouts at bars, pubs and clubs in the Sydney CBD ‘entertainment precinct’, which includes Kings Cross, Darlinghurst, The Rocks, Haymarket and Cockle Bay.
Now while some of us might think that 1.30am sounds like a late night, those who don’t simply picked up their dancing shoes and set off in search of a new home… and Newtown become the new late-night party strip of choice.
According to the Daily Telegraph, more than 36,500 people now head to the inner west on a Saturday night and Newtown station has recorded a 383 per cent increase in traffic since Kings Cross and its neighbours effectively shut down. Between 11pm and midnight, an average 125,655 (!) people jump off the trains and into the bars and restaurants of King Street and surrounds.
Where do they all go? Well, the Marlborough Hotel, the Newtown Hotel, Coopers Hotel, The Bank, The Courthouse and Young Henrys for a start. But they also play a part in sustaining the smaller local businesses that offer a more intimate late-night experience.
And that could all be about to change. In November, the Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) welcomed a plan by Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore to give the city’s night-life economy a kick up the proverbial. The impetus behind it is that these new laws will dilute the crowds – and the accompanying noise and nuisance – at the current night-time magnets such as Newtown and neighbouring Surry Hills.
(The draft planning controls were passed by Council on 19 November and are on public exhibition until February 8.)
Among the highlights of the proposed plan are:
- A 24-hour city centre zone where businesses can trade 24 hours a day. (Most venues in this area can currently trade until 5am.)
- 2am close for certain main streets such as Crown Street, Redfern Street, Union Street and Glebe Point Road.
- New late-night trading areas for Barangaroo, Green Square town centre, Danks Street in Waterloo and around the East Village shopping centre in Zetland.
- A 24 hour ‘cultural precinct’ in Alexandria between McEvoy Street to the north and Alexandra Canal to the south.
None of this will affect those areas affected by the current lockout laws however, as State government directives trump those of the City.
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