Council gives outdoor dining fees the chop

26 Feb 2020

Newcastle’s restaurants and cafes will no longer pay fees for outdoor dining after Council scrapped the charges right across the city last night.

Aimed at encouraging more outdoor dining and activating commercial centres, the amendment to the City’s Outdoor Trading Policy will save inner-city businesses $115 a year for every square metre they host patrons outdoors, and $65/sqm for businesses elsewhere in Newcastle.

“Waiving outdoor trading fees will hopefully encourage cafes, restaurants and other eateries to expand trading onto footpaths,” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“We hope this will give the local dining scene and surrounding businesses a boost.

“The City is doing more than its fair share to support businesses amid major changes to the city and the challenges posed by online and digital competitors to traditional businesses. Whether it be scrapping fees, offering rate relief or making better use of business rates through grants programs, we are doing all we can as a local government while remaining financially sustainable.

“At current outdoor trading levels, small businesses will save a total of around $130,000 a year, money they will no doubt invest back into their businesses to making their offerings even more appealing to customers.”

The City issued 129 approvals for people or organisations to trade outdoors in 2018/2019, drawing $129,421 in revenue.

Happy customers: Ground Floor cafe owners Jordan Mizrahi and Alicen Lewis

The abolition of fees amounts to a substantial saving for restaurateurs and couple Jordan Mizrahi and Alicen Lewis, who own Ground Floor Café on Hunter Street and the Basement bar on Market Street in Newcastle.

“This is very rewarding for businesses and very welcome as we will save around $4,000 across the two businesses,” Mizrahi, 33, said.

“We will spend it on improving the outdoor area by buying new tables and chairs to make it more appealing to customers.”

The fees will be scrapped from 1 July after Council voted to scrap them at last night’s ordinary meeting.

This follows a recommendation in the 2019 NSW Outdoor Dining Policy by the State’s Small Business Commissioner to waive Council or State Government fees for businesses seeking a permit to trade outside.

A notice of motion supported by council at its August 2019 meeting - to receive a report on the NSW Outdoor Dining Policy - resulted in last night’s amendment to the City’s 2018 Outdoor Trading Policy.

Fees for the installation of permanent footpath markers indicating outdoor trading areas will remain in place.

This is a one-off cost of $170 for new applicants hoping to open areas not previously approved for dining.