Newcastle council voted earlier this week in support of a trial to extend the trading hours of restaurants in the city until midnight and to 2:00 AM for small bars.
This extension comes years after the City of Newcastle’s originally adopted the After Dark Strategy two years ago.
Twenty-seven bars and restaurants have opted into the proposed trial, as part of efforts to grow the night-time economy and support the hospitality industry recovery from the impact of COVID-19 related restrictions.
Venues include wine bars such as Coal and Cedar, Basement on Market and Big Poppys, as well as iconic restaurants such as Scratchleys, the Edwards, Three Bears Kitchen, and the Signal Box.
Newcastle Lord Mayor, Nuatali Nelmes, said the Newcastle Night-time Economy trial was a collaborative process involving both local and state governments that would allow for an evidence-based understanding of the community’s needs.
“City of Newcastle’s Newcastle After Dark strategy is our plan for creating a safe, vibrant and diverse night-time economy,” she said.
“The Strategy was unanimously endorsed by the Council in November 2018 and supports venues designated as low risk such as small bars to be exempt from current lock-out laws and permitted to trade until 2:00 AM.
“The After Dark strategy highlights that the growth of venue diversity is paramount to increasing the appeal of the Newcastle’s night-time economy to demographics who are currently not catered for.”
The trial will begin in October and will allow 27 low impact venues to open later and relax current drinking restrictions to provide a boost to the local hospitality, entertainment and creative sectors.
“Newcastle’s night-time economy has undergone significant changes over the past 15 years. We acknowledge that for Newcastle to thrive as a diverse and vibrant City, our night-time economy must be strong,” Nuatali said.
“The hospitality and creative industries have also struggled in the wake of COVID-19 with job losses, income reduction and loss of revenue because of the impacts of Public Health Orders, restrictions to venue capacities and a general reluctance for people to attend public places.
“We hope to see a positive outcome from the trial for these industries through increased night-time economic development, cultural participation and activation in our City.”
Deputy Lord Mayor, Cr Declan Clausen, successfully moved a resolution to support an Independent inner-city residents’ representative member being appointed to the Committee for Night Time Jobs and Investment.
The Deputy Lord Mayor’s resolution will also see City of Newcastle write to the Minister for Customer Service, the Hon. Victor Dominello MP, requesting the Minister re-instate Newcastle based Liquor Licensing Compliance Officers, to both assist in overseeing proposed licensing regulatory changes, and to gather crucial data throughout the Newcastle Night Time Economy trial.
City of Newcastle together with the Liquor and Gaming NSW, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, Newcastle Tourism Industry Group and the NSW Police have worked together to facilitate the trial relaxation of the current conditions for low risk venues.
Local Restaurateur and Owner of Scratchleys on the Wharf, Neil Slater, said the trial is a valuable opportunity to revitalise what the City has to offer after dark.
“These changes to the night-time economy are all part of a revitalised Newcastle precinct. The trial will allow for a more sophisticated Newcastle that has matured and is ready to take our place as one of the great cities of Australia,” he said.
“We want to offer visitors and locals alike a truly wonderful city by day or night.”
IMAGE | Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, Ryan Hawthorne from Coal and Cedar, and Neil Slater from Scratchleys on the Wharf (left-right).