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Recent store closures along Oxford St have raised concerns for small businesses in the village precinct of Glebe, a suburb that similarly thrives on the appeal of its cultural cafes and local stores. Offering a range of small businesses and local shops, Glebe Point Rd was recently the focus of a $15 million re-development project by City of Sydney Council, who sought to uplift the street and increase safety for its local residents.

According to Angela, owner of Glamourpuss Boutique, the upgrades have made the street more presentable and appealing to the community, in a move that she hopes “will bring more business.”

Liberal Councillor, Shayne Mallard was positive about what the re-developments signified for the Glebe community. “Street upgrades are always painful,” he said. “I think Glebe Point Rd looks fantastic for it.” However, Mr Mallard also said more support is needed for business owners on the street. “In my view, the Council doesn’t do enough to support businesses on Glebe Point Road … There is too much overregulation [and] too much Council control to discourage people to open up shops and businesses.”

One suggestion by Mr Mallard was footpath licensing for cafes and restaurants with high expenses. “Council … shouldn’t even be charging people for the chairs on the footpath in areas like Glebe, because those businesses are doing it tough,” he said.

Recent pub applications for outdoor seating in Glebe from the Ancient Briton and The Toxteth were rejected by Council due to concerns over resident safety and disturbance. However, Glebe Society
Planning Convenor Neil MacIndoe said there have been no complaints about the cafes. “In general we support outdoor seating and feel it adds to the convivial atmosphere of Glebe,” he said.

According to Chris Newton, a member of the Glebe Chamber of Commerce, Glebe’s retail situation is “held back by absent landlords who do not want to rent the shopfronts.” He affirmed that the upgrades have failed to help businesses on Glebe Point Rd because they have made parking more difficult.

Oxford St, Paddington, has also been affected by the recent street upgrades. Peter Cavanagh, Paddington Ward Liberal Councillor on the Woollahra Municipal Council, said: “Paddington is suffering like all small business areas with the economic downturn. It has also suffered by the upgrade works being carried on by Ausgrid over a long period of time.”

But Mr Newton maintained Glebe “will always bounce back because there are always people that are fascinated by its diversity and bohemian feel … Cafes, cheap eats and funky bars will always attract.”