New ideas for improved public space coming to Darby Street

15 May 2022

City of Newcastle is working to enhance the outdoor dining experience along Darby Street while improving safety and accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists.

A six-month trial starting in spring will see the footpath widened between Sanctum and Goldbergs restaurants. This work will see a removable platform installed to increase space for outdoor dining. This will be made possible during the trial period by extending a dining platform over seven existing car parking spaces.

The project will bring new life to the Darby Headphones Courtyard with new street seating, paving, lighting and public art to encourage people to visit, stay and connect. The project will also include the installation of vibrant murals on both the walls and footpaths, celebrating local and upcoming artists in collaboration with local art festivals. A new pedestrian crossing leading to the courtyard will improve accessibility and safety.

The temporary loss of car parking spaces in the area will be offset by the conversion of sixteen existing paid all-day parking behind the Newcastle Art Gallery (which is currently closed for the long-awaited expansion) into free, two-hour parking spaces during the trial. A convenient drop-off /pick-up zone near the shops and eateries will also form part of the trial.

Newcastle Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said safety improvements and beautification of the popular eat-street would bring a range of benefits to the community.

“Our local hospitality industry was hit hard during COVID-19. Investment in our local centres helps restore confidence, create local jobs and boost our twilight and after dark economy, which employed 12,000 Novocastrian and created $1.4 billion per year in economic activity prior to COVID," Councillor Clausen said.

"Across the City, public investment into our local centres is translating into improved consumer and business confidence – delivering safer and more inviting local places for Novocastrians to shop and eat.

“Outdoor dining is more popular than ever, and this project is perfectly timed for long Spring meals at Darby Street’s quirky cafes, small bars and restaurants.

“Walkable and cycle-friendly local centres are critical to making great places. Trialling of traffic calming infrastructure will make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists, and help create an environment where dining spaces for local cafes and restaurants can be extended."

The trial has been made possible with funding from the City of Newcastle Urban Centres Revitalisation Program and a $500,000 grant from the NSW Government through the Streets as Shared Spaces program (Round 2). The program funds trials that support immediate community needs and test and build the case for more permanent changes that positively impact local economies and community health and wellbeing.

Community consultation will commence tomorrow, Monday 16 May, gathering feedback on the proposed trial. This feedback will also help inform future projects in the area. Visit