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Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP’s push for the development of a late night economy lists good governance, round the clock transport and diversification of nighttime activity as key to doubling turnover from $15 billion to $30 billion by 2030.

The plan pushes for the diversification of nighttime activity, straying away from alcohol towards retail and cultural experiences.
Suzie Matthews, Council’s manager of late night economy and safe city, said retailers should be able to capitalise on the one million people who flow into the city every day, as well as for special events.

“There are a lot of major events that happen in Sydney where we just need to give the opportunity to retailers and present the economic case that you can actually make money during these major events,” she said.

Co-owners of Darlinghurst’s wild west themed bar Shady Pines Saloon, John Scott and Anton Forte, believe the plan has potential to boost the city economically and culturally but may be opposed to by city
residents.

“Sydney is pretty dead after 7pm for the most part, except on Friday and Saturday nights where it resembles chaos,” Mr Scott said. “Most of the time it feels quite empty.”

Despite Shady Pines’ central location near Oxford St, it is subject to the mandatory City of Sydney midnight closing time. “Sydney is extremely resdential in a lot of areas, so you’re dealing with residents all the time,” he said. “A lot of people move through the lane way here (outside Shady Pines) and we cop a lot of sideways flack from that.”

The Draft Strategy and Action Plan for the late night economy is on public exhibition until August 31 and the plan is not without its critics. Stephan Gyory, Potts Point resident and owner of Darlinghurst business, The Record Store, is sceptical about the plan. “At night people drink and eat… they don’t shop.

“You can’t legislate diversitynand you can’t create artificially; diversity flows naturally,” he said.

“Restaurants can’t extend their trading hours… and yet beer barns operate around the clock.” Currently, a liquor license must be applied for through the NSW Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing and does not fall under Council jurisdiction.

Adrian Barthels, president of the Potts Point business group, suggested there was a schism between what Council talks about in the media, and its day-to-day bureaucracy.

“I find sometimes Council’s approach is contradictory. I think they have good intentions, but those intentions are not supported by their processes,” he said.

“Businesses are getting mixed messages, which affects their ability to trade.”

However, Greens councillor Chris Harris, supported efforts for diversification. “Sydney is a global city, and it is the sort of city that should operate 24/7, but unfortunately the focus is on bars and nightclubs, and that manifests itself in a negative way,” he said.

“There are all sorts of impacts. Recreational drugs and alcohol
have negative implications for police resources and council.”