City of Sydney: Late Night Premises

City of Sydney: Late Night Premises

City of Sydney: Late Night Premises



You may be aware that recent media reports have claimed that Council wants to shut the City at midnight. This is not the case, and the Council is keen to ensure that business owners and managers get the facts about the changes to the City's Late Night Trading Premises Development Control Plan (DCP). 

Attached is a letter and fact sheet explaining the changes.  

You can also find more on our website:

Yours sincerely

Suzie Matthews


Suzie Matthews

Manager, Late Night Economy

City of Sydney

456 Kent Street

Sydney NSW 2000 Australia

 28 October 2010

Dear licensee/manager

I wish to correct the inaccurate information in the media relating to draft changes to the City of Sydney’s Late Night Premises Development Control Plan (DCP) and to invite you to attend your local liquor accord meeting where the City will provide you with a presentation.

Much of the reporting on this issue has been misleading and has given the false impression that the city will be shut down at midnight. This is completely untrue. Sydney has one of the greatest concentrations of 24-hour and late-night trading licensed premises in Australia with almost 2000 licensed venues. The City is proud of the fact that the majority of these venues are responsibly managed and safe. We want everyone to be able to enjoy a vibrant nightlife in Sydney with extended opening hours in most cases. This will not change as a result of the city’s minor proposed changes to the DCP.

The DCP came into effect in December 2007. The great majority of existing bars, pubs, restaurants and clubs in Sydney will be unaffected by the DCP or proposed minor changes.

From December 2007, the DCP applies to:

* development applications for new premises;

* existing venues who substantially modify their premises or seek an increase in their hours of operation; or

* premises with trial periods that request to renew them.

Any venue which is well managed and safe can go on enjoying the privilege of operating extended trading hours and should not be concerned, but rather welcome the improved policy. Since October 2009, NSW Government legislation has provided councils with powers to apply ‘reviewable conditions’ relating to hours of operation or population capacity of premises. These reviewable conditions cannot be attached to licensed premises that are already open unless the licensee applies to substantially modify or intensify the use of the premises.

A reviewable condition allows the City to reassess premises where there is clear evidence of poor management. If the City decides to undertake a review the operator will have the opportunity to make submissions, and the review will be notified in the same way as development applications. Following a review, the City can require or assist operators to introduce new strategies and processes to improve the operation of their premises.

Only in circumstances of repeated management failure, would trading hours and/or patron capacity be wound back. If the owner disagrees with the findings of the review, they are entitled to have the decision reviewed.

The DCP is about rewarding well managed establishments whilst in the worst instances, withdrawing extended trading privileges from those who do not deserve to have them. A more detailed factsheet about the contents of this letter is attached. A small minority of poorly run premises contribute to alcohol related violence and give the industry a bad name. This affects the safety of all patrons, residents and visitors.

The City’s role is to balance the needs of licensees, patrons, NSW Police and residents so everybody can safely enjoy visiting or living in our city. The best way we can do this is by working together.

Yours sincerely

Monica Barone

Chief Executive Officer


The City of Sydney wants you to know the facts about bars and clubs staying open

late. Most of the messages in the media are inaccurate and misleading. We don’t

want to shut the city down at midnight. This could not be further from the truth.

There are parts of the City where venues operate all night, and this will not change

as a result of changes to our Late Night Trading Premises Development Control Plan

(DCP). In fact the vast majority of the bars and clubs in Sydney will not be affected by

these changes.

How does the DCP affect you?

The DCP came into effect in December 2007. If you had unrestricted development

approval before this date, and haven’t applied for a development application (DA)

since, then you are not affected by the DCP.

The DCP applies to you only if you decide to lodge a DA for substantial changes to

your venue. For example, if you lodge a DA for an extra bar area, then Council may

approve base hours but approve extended hours for the new bar area only for a

rolling trial period. The DCP does not apply if you want to make changes that will not

increase the intensity of operations at your premises. If you lodged a DA to repaint

your heritage façade, this would not necessarily activate the DCP, but if you lodged a

DA to add new balconies that are effectively outdoor licensed areas, then this would

activate the DCP.

What are trial periods – and how does this affect my business?

NSW Planning legislation enables any council to apply trial periods for different land

uses, not just for licensed premises.

Late trading licensed venues which obtained or modified their development consent

after December 2007 may already be subject to a trial period under the provisions of

the DCP. Trial periods relate only to extended trading hours, not base trading hours.

Trial periods operate as a reward system for venues that demonstrate good

management. The premise of the DCP is that extended trading hours are a privilege

that must be earned, not a right.

Premises can apply for base hours, which ensure a level of commercial certainty,

and at the same time can apply for extended hours on a trial period. Approval of the

base hours is permanent. Extended hours are always on trial subject to the continued

good management of the premises. Five-year trial periods are the maximum

available, and these can be earned after three years (usually after two trial periods).

The draft changes to the DCP do not alter these arrangements. If you are a good

operator with a safe and well-managed venue, then you have nothing to fear.

The City’s extended trading hours provisions are very generous. In some parts of the

City this means trading up to 24 hours.