And the short-sighted policies of the present – lockout laws, plastic cups, venues shutting up shop, young people questioning their place in our city.
I was once introduced at a Mardi Gras event as the lord mayor of a beautiful city where they like to tuck you up in bed by 9pm.
It’s clear we need change.
The City has spent years doing the research and talking to our community – we looked at the ways people move around the city using heat mapping to identify hotspots, consulted with residents, venues, emergency services and others, we looked at what other cities are doing and built a deep understanding of the way people use our city at night.
We made the changes we could make – we led Sydney’s small bar revolution, introduced food trucks, upgraded taxi ranks, improved wayfinding and increased CCTV. We developed – and will now implement – a live music action plan and funded late night ambassadors.
We’ve also released a draft development control plan with some of the biggest changes to red tape and city planning in a decade.
The proposals include extending 24-hour trading across the entire city centre, allowing shops, businesses and low-impact food and drink venues on high streets to trade later, introducing new late-night trading areas in some of the city’s fastest-growing neighbourhoods, such as Barangaroo, and allowing venues that host performances in late-night trading areas to trade for an extra hour. The plan was developed with feedback from more than 10,000 people and has just been on public exhibition.
But the big changes to our night-time economy – the changes we need for long-term growth – all depend on the NSW government. They include running public transport 24-hours on Friday and Saturday nights; replacing lifetime liquor licenses with renewable liquor licences; and new measures to manage venue growth and concentration, including new “saturation zone” rules, that consider the number and type of licensed premises in a given area, along with relevant crime data and transport options.
What we don’t need is a continuation of the lockout laws.
As the analysis from Deloitte Access Economics makes clear, this is more than just about pubs and clubs. It is, as I’ve often said, about giving people more options at night – museums, cafes, galleries and retail stores as well as small bars, pubs and clubs and dance venues.
That’s because having more options creates a safer and more balanced late-night economy, which attracts a wider range of people into the city centre, for a range of different activities. And it means the thousands of people who start or finish work late to keep our global city running 24/7 can have access to fun when they want it as well.
There are green shoots of promise in our night-time sector and so much potential. We just need the political will by our state government – and the opposition – to nurture what’s already working and build on that and to introduce long-lasting reform to help Sydney truly thrive late at night.
To change our story from one of extremes to one that is the envy of the world.
Clover Moore is lord mayor of Sydney.