Our Plans for the Night Time Economy

In May 2019, City of Sydney Council unanimously endorsed our new late night development control plan for Sydney. On Wednesday 3 July the City is holding an information session for anyone interested in applying for new trading hours as part of this plan. We encourage you to register your interest here.

What is a DCP?

DCP stands for development control plan – a document which provides detailed planning and design guidelines in line with the planning controls outlined in the Sydney Local Environment Plan or LEP. When it comes to development in the City of Sydney, the Sydney DCP 2012 applies to most of our local government area.

The Late Night Trading Premises DCP applies to businesses who operate at night – outlining where late night activity can take place in the city and until how late. That’s what we are referring to when we talk about our new plan to revitalise Sydney’s nightlife.

You can download all relevant development control plans for the City of Sydney here

When will the new late night DCP come into effect?

17 June 2019 but you can start talking to our planners now if you’re ready to apply for new trading hours.

Is this just for retail businesses or can bars, restaurants and licensed venues apply? 

The late night development control plan applies to all businesses who trade at night, after 10pm. This includes shops and unlicensed businesses but also restaurants, small bars, nightclubs and other licensed premises.

The trading hours depend on the type of businesses, whether it hosts performance and its location.

What is in the DCP?

Updated planning controls to provide the foundation for Sydney’s nightlife to grow. They allow for:

  • A 24-hour city centre – Spanning from Darling Harbour in the west to Hyde Park in the east and Central station in the south. Currently, most venues in this area may trade until 5am with approval.

  • Later hours in local centres – Trading hours for low-impact businesses including small bars along village main streets such as Crown, Redfern and Union streets and Glebe Point Road can apply for extended hours until 2am, only if patrons enter and exit the venue from a main street and not a laneway or residential area.

  • New areas for new communities – New late-night trading areas in some of the city’s fastest-growing neighbourhoods, including Barangaroo, the Green Square town centre, Walsh Bay, Danks Street in Waterloo and around the East Village shopping centre in Zetland. The proposed trading hours for businesses in these new areas vary depending on type, capacity and potential impact.

  • Extended hours for unlicensed businesses – A new category of trading hours for unlicensed shops, like bookstores and clothing shops, and businesses like gyms, drycleaners and hairdressers.

  • A new cultural precinct in Alexandria – We’ve identified a new 24-hour trading area with an arts, cultural and entertainment focus in a heritage warehouse precinct in north Alexandria, between McEvoy Street to the north and Alexandra Canal to the south.

  • Expanding existing areas – Existing late-night trading areas in Chippendale, Redfern and west Surry Hills have been expanded to include nearby streets with a similar character, and businesses that have opened since the controls were last reviewed.

  • Additional hours for performance and culture – Dedicated performance venues in late night trading areas are permitted one additional trading hour at closing time on a trial basis. All other licensed venues in late night trading areas that host performances would be permitted one extra trading hour at closing time on nights when they provide at least 45 minutes of performance.


How does this work with liquor licensing and the lockout laws?

The NSW Government’s liquor licensing laws continue to apply. For premises that intend to serve alcohol, both planning approval and a liquor license is needed.

The City can’t override the NSW Government’s lockout laws but we continue to advocate for them to be relaxed.

This means that if you’re a licensed premise in the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct and Kings Cross Precinct, you’ll only be allowed to trade as late as the lockout laws allow you to. But if you are an unlicensed premise or business, you can trade under the conditions in our new late night DCP.

The good thing about the late night DCP is we’ve identified many areas outside of the lockout zone where bars and licensed venues will be able to access extended trading hours.

Information about liquor licensing is available from Liquor and Gaming NSW.


Do the changes apply to Kings Cross? 

Darlinghurst Road is still a 24 hour trading area. We’ve also introduced several changes for Kings Cross which are designed to encourage more diverse late-night trading to attract a wider range of people and create a more balanced and safe night-time economy.  

The late night trading provisions have been extended on Llankelly Place and low-impact businesses in the existing ‘local centres’ around Victoria and Macleay streets can apply for extended hours to 2am if the premises has entry and exits onto a main street.  Unlicensed shops and businesses throughout the area can apply to trade later.

Kings Cross venues will also benefit from an additional hour of trading for dedicated performance venues or those which host performance.

Who was consulted on the late night DCP?

In 2018 we conducted an extensive consultation process and spoke to more than 10,000 people who told us they wanted later opening hours, more diversity after dark, and things to do closer to home. Using this feedback our planners came up with a draft development control plan which was then put on public exhibition. We received over 1000 submissions in response to this draft, with the majority in favour of our plan for Sydney’s nightlife.

This sounds great. How can I apply for extra trading hours?

You’ll need to lodge a development application (DA) with the City of Sydney. This is so we can consult with the community and establish any conditions of consent required to mitigate any impacts on the local neighbourhood. It’s all about balancing the needs of businesses and residents, so we approve additional hours incrementally and on a trial basis, so we can reward well-managed venues.

How much does it cost to put in a DA?

Fees may vary for every situation and the City’s duty planner can provide a quote. Fees are calculated depending on the value of works undertaken in any original DA, any further work being undertaken and costs of processing, notifying and advertising applications.

How long will it take?

The time taken to determine applications for extended trading hours will depend on the circumstances and issues raised during the public notification of the proposals.

Do I need to lodge a DA to access that additional trading hour on nights when I put on live music or performance?

Yes, you need to put in an application to modify your consent to allow you to have an additional trading hour on the night that you host performance, or submit a new DA if you are a new business. The DCP includes guidance on the information that you need to submit with your application about hosting performance.

Will I also need to apply for an extension on my liquor license or do I only need to apply for the one DA?

If you are applying to the City of Sydney to change your trading hours, you need to ensure that your liquor license allows you to trade later. If you need to change the trading hours of your license or any other license conditions, you must apply separately to NSW Liquor and Gaming.

I have more questions, is there someone I can talk to face-to-face?
It’s easy to make an appointment with a duty planner and get some more advice about your DA. Click here for more information.

I want to put on live music but I’m scared of getting noise complaints. Can the City of Sydney help me?

Yes we can! To support businesses trialling new events and activities at night, we offer matched funding through our night-time diversification and live music and performance grants programs. These can help fund tech upgrades and soundproofing as well as new programming at your venue or bar.

Applications for the next round open on 19 June – we encourage you to sign up here for more information about upcoming grants rounds and contact our staff if you have any questions (their contact details are in the above links).