Streets and public spaces across NSW are booming thanks to a $66 million NSW Government investment to kickstart the hospitality and events sector during and after the pandemic.
The programs spanned a range of initiatives including the Alfresco Restart Package, the Streets as Shared Spaces program, Your High Street and a range of other pop-up events and legislative changes to encourage events and activations on NSW streets.
A report assessing the impact of the measures found they led to more than 13,500 jobs including 2,800 hospitality workers and more than 530,000 attendees at pop-up and street activations spread across 300 events in 112 local government areas.
Minister for Cities Rob Stokes said temporary and permanent measures introduced since 2020 have transformed the way we use our streets and public spaces, breathing new life into our cities and town centres.
“The pandemic accelerated global trends that were already happening and we had to change too, transforming our Central Business Districts into Central Social Districts that encourage people to stay longer, and spend local,” Mr Stokes said.
“That’s why we threw out the rule book, closing off NSW streets to cars and opening them up to people, creating thousands of jobs for the hospitality industry and bringing joy to millions who attended events or enjoyed a meal or a drink outside.”
“A good city is like a good party, the better it is the longer people want to stay which is why we’ve made many of the changes permanent, and why we’re today announcing the permanent pedestrianisation of George Street at The Rocks.”
Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said while the economic impacts were profound, the measures also helped make NSW cities and streets more vibrant.
“We made these changes to support businesses during the darkest times, and we’re keeping them because they’ve made life better for many people,” Mr Dominello said.
“We demonstrated a better way to do regulation, resulting in over 200 venues across the State getting outdoor dining approval in a matter of days. What used to take up to 50 days, was cut to 3 days so both businesses and customers can take advantage of enjoying a meal and a drink on the street.”
Foot traffic in The Rocks is now at 90 per cent of pre-covid levels despite fewer international tourists, and business turnover is tracking above pre-covid levels (2019) by more than 15 per cent.
Ahead of the pedestrianisation of George Street The Rocks becoming permanent, Placemaking NSW will run a design competition to respect the heritage significance of the streetscape.
It follows permanent works to improve streets and town centres across NSW cities and regions as part of the Your High Street program, including; Drummoyne, Dulwich Hill, Fairfield, Gilgandra, Griffith, Hay, Hornsby, Kingswood, Lakemba, Lennox Head, Maitland, Maroubra, Moree, Murwillumbah, Nowra, Parramatta, Trundle, Queanbeyan and Wagga Wagga.
To view the full impact report, visit the link here. Images and vision can be found here.