Wollongong CBD night time economy set to grow

Wollongong City Council is looking to review the hours of operation for small bars in the CBD, encourage later evening retail trade, and to add ‘Cultural Venue’ to our land use terms in a major policy overhaul that’ll shortly go on public exhibition.

Council’s draft Wollongong CBD Night Time Economy Policy was considered by Council tonight, Monday 21 September, and looks at the ways we can work towards building a thriving City and a vibrant bar and restaurant culture.

The draft Wollongong CBD Night Time Economy Policy will go on exhibition shortly for 28 days and is available on Council’s Our Wollongong website.

Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said that the draft Policy aims to support the shift in the city’s night time economy in recent years, and the growth of small bars and the cosmopolitan café culture we enjoy.

It’s also in line with work by the NSW State Government to develop policy around operational hours and practices for small bars and restaurants.

“Wollongong’s CBD has evolved over recent years thanks to the growth of a number of locals cafes, great restaurants and unique small bars. Between 2012 and 2019, 110 new food and drink venues opened across the Wollongong CBD.

“With new residential developments soon to be finished and A-grade office accommodation currently under construction, we anticipate that our City will continue to grow and evolve,” said Councillor Bradbery.

“The Wollongong CBD Night Time Economy Policy aims to provide clarity and support to local businesses by providing information on operating hours within the CBD and development application requirements.”

The draft Policy targets low impact venues and businesses in limited land use and does not apply to pubs and registered clubs due to potential impacts of high patron numbers.

“One of the great parts of the draft Policy is that it encourages a broader spectrum of businesses to consider extending their hours of operation,” said Councillor Bradbery.

To facilitate this, the draft Policy introduces the new term ‘Cultural Venue’ that refers to a venue or business which offers additional services beyond the service of food and drink.

“Eventually, we hope to see a broader range of businesses considering trading later into the evening. This change will help diversify the business and retail offerings that stay open after 5pm.”

In addition, the draft Policy will also contribute towards the recovery of Wollongong’s night time economy, given the challenges presented by recent COVID-19 restrictions and closures.

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