Oxford Street Round Table

(6pm 18 July 2012, Reception Room Sydney Town Hall)

Hi everyone, welcome to our Oxford Street Round Table.

First I would like to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the 200 nationalities who make up our city.

Thank you for joining us tonight.

The challenges facing Oxford Street can't be solved by any one business, institution, not by the Woollahra or City of Sydney Councils - and even the State Government can't fix it alone. We need to work together.

Tonight is a chance for us to do just that.

The challenges facing Oxford Street include the impacts of traffic, market forces, and new shopping centres at either end in Bondi Junction and the city centre.

Oxford Street's night time economy has undergone major change in the past 20 years - the result of changes to liquor licensing laws and changes in the ownership and management of individual venues.

We've seen the impact of these changes - an increased concentration of venues, and changes in the venues themselves and the people who visit them.

These changes have fuelled alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and violence, which is thankfully showing some signs of decline on Oxford Street.

These changes have also encouraged the growth of businesses that target the night time trade, at the expense of the day time economy.

And then there are the challenges presented by the differing perceptions people have of Oxford Street.

A major village centre, the iconic home of Sydney's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, a thriving creative and fashion retail destination, and a significant cultural, dining and entertainment precinct.

Or just a thoroughfare connecting the city centre with the eastern suburbs, a place to speed through with as little hindrance as possible.

Oxford Street is a boundary between Councils and local police commands. It's a six lane State Government road, with buses thundering down clearways for much of the day.

To get it working again, everyone in this room has a role to play.

The key state government agencies, our neighbouring Council of Woollahra, the galleries, universities and hospital on Oxford Street, people who own property, businesses and all of your organisations.

So I sincerely appreciate you giving up your time tonight.

We have a broad cross-section of people here - business groups, businesses, property owners, tenants in our creative spaces, representatives from key institutions.

I would particularly like to welcome Susan Wynne, Mayor of Woollahra, her fellow Paddington Ward Councillors and Council staff.

As you know, Oxford Street Paddington is the boundary between Woollahra and the City so it is essential that we work together cooperatively. Woollahra Council also recognises the need for action. On 9 July, Council requested a report to guide the development of a new vision and masterplan for Oxford Street, which would take into account the effect on land-use planning arising from technological change and solutions used in other cities to re-invigorate strip shopping centres as destinations.

I also welcome representatives of key state government agencies - Candace Barron, Director of the Small Business Commissioner's Retail Tenancy Unit and Rebecca Durr, Manager of Events and Marketing for Destination NSW.

Disappointingly, Transport for NSW is not here tonight - even though they are responsible for public transport, speed limits and clearways. We need to find ways to bring them into this discussion.

Tonight, we want to hear from each of you - your ideas for revitalising Oxford Street. Practically speaking, how you and your organisations can contribute. And most importantly, how you believe we can all work together to make Oxford Street thrive again.

I would now like to introduce Jo Kelly, our facilitator for tonight.