Night life plan open for comment

11 Apr 2018

A live music task force and an even-handed noise management policy are part of a sweeping plan to breathe new life and colour into Newcastle's night-time hospitality and cultural scene.

The Newcastle After Dark Strategy, now on public exhibition, details how Council will continue growing the city's $1.36 billion night time economy responsibly, after previously pioneering widely lauded measures to mitigate alcohol-related violence.

The strategy proposes a range of initiatives that will support greater diversity of night-time venues, and encourage a safe, vibrant and creative public culture of nightlife.

"We want the City of Newcastle to have a thriving and diverse night time economy, with high quality facilities, amenity and local services for everyone," Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

"A well-planned city night-time economy has a central role to play in city centre revitalisation, as well as a major influence over the visitor and cultural economies of the city and the region.

"Our night time economy is equally a place of work and productivity, directly employing over twelve thousand Novocastrians and accounting for 5.4 per cent of the total Newcastle economy, so it's imperative that we do all we can to ensure our city thrives safely after dark.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said that Newcastle has experienced significant changes over the past 10 years with strong growth in smaller low-impact venues and a burgeoning creative and dining scene.

"Residential density is increasing in the city and with this comes the challenges of balancing the needs of those calling the city home, and those who visit for entertainment.

"The Newcastle After Dark Strategy forms Council's response to these challenges and outlines the opportunities we have to continue to build our night time economy."

One measure to overcome tensions between inner-city residential and entertainment venue development is introduction of the Agent of Change principle as part of a taskforce-steered live music venues policy.

Adopted in other major cities, Agent of Change prevents potential disputes over noise disturbances by making developers of new apartments -- or existing venues seeking to make modifications -- responsible for noise management.

"When new apartments are built next to an existing music venue, they would be responsible for noise attenuation, such as by installing double glazing.

"Likewise, if a live music venue seeks to extend its trading hours later at night or opens a beer garden, then it would be responsible for noise issues," Councillor Nelmes added.

Seven separate night time precincts are identified in the strategy, which recognises Newcastle's West End as the natural home of live music, to better tailor planning and preserve their individual characters.

The 48-page strategy details six priorities and 10 programs of action to:

  • Prevent and mitigate the harmful and anti-social impacts of irresponsible consumption of alcohol
  • Encourage a sustainable, safe and diverse night-time economy
  • Design urban areas to facilitate safe, attractive and engaging night-time spaces
  • Encourage diverse cultural activities
  • Regulate and plan to enable and support the overall vision
  • Research and evaluate programs implemented

View the Strategy online at

• Hard copies can be viewed at:

• City Administration Centre

• Newcastle Region Library and Wallsend District Library

Written submissions should be sent to:

The Chief Executive Officer

Newcastle City Council

Attn: Nathaniel Bavinton

PO Box 489