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Newcastle After Dark - Phase 1 Trial

Enjoy Newcastle’s vibrant culture, support local venues and help unlock our night-time economy.

Newcastle After Dark - Phase 1 Trial

Thank you to the 900+ people who recently shared their experiences in Newcastle after dark including where they go, what they do and ideas for night-time activities. This information will help us build a picture of what Newcastle’s night-time economy looked like before the trial of later closing times for some low-impact venues.

Frequently asked questions

The Newcastle After Dark Strategy is the City of Newcastle’s specific strategy for guiding development of the City’s night-time economy. The Strategy came into force in 2018. It identifies strategic principles to shape the night-time economy over four years and includes a detailed action plan for delivering against the principles.

The trial is about changing some of the controls on how certain venues can sell alcohol and when they can sell it. The notable changes as part of the trial will be the ability for small bars to remain operating until 2am, and restaurants to remain open till midnight. In addition, all participating venues will be able to serve cocktails (mixed drinks of more than 30mls alcohol). This will mean that our city is open for longer, so that you can enjoy the specific venues which are part of the trial for longer.

A low impact venue refers to degree of impact a venue may have on the community. The kinds of impacts a venue might have relate to many factors including its patron capacity, the kind of liquor licence a venue has, whether it offers food, and the types of activities that are permitted. Examples of low impact venues identified in the Newcastle After Dark Strategy include small bars, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, galleries, microbreweries and comedy clubs. These types of venues have not historically been associated with negative social impacts in Newcastle.

The trial is restricted to venues with 'small bar' and 'on premises (restaurants)' licences within Newcastle East, Newcastle (including Honeysuckle), Newcastle West and Cooks Hill. To provide additional certainty that the venues have not been the source of anti-social behaviour, the premises have been approved by both Liquor and Gamming NSW and NSW Police.

The trial is set to begin in October 2020 and will run initially for a period of 6 months. It is possible that the trial duration will be extended to provide for appropriate evaluation.

Pubs and Clubs have not been included in the trial to ensure that the potential impact on the community is minimised. Typically, pubs and clubs can hold more people and hence have the potential to have a greater impact.

The night-time economy is linked to some of the most hard-hit sectors impacted by COVID-19 and associated health order restrictions. These include the hospitality, tourism, and arts and cultural sectors, particularly live music and performance. A motivation for the trial is to ease restrictions that can help these small businesses to remain viable.

The trial will allow some of our small businesses to continue to operate for additional hours each night they are open. This will allow for additional opportunities for revenue generation which will directly boost the night-time economy. The flow on effects will see additional employment opportunities at these venues.

All participating venues will be required to conform to health safety orders and have COVIDSafe planning in place.

If the trial is a success then consideration will be given to extending the parameters of the trial. The success will be determined by the positive behaviour of the community so this is very much dependent on what we all do during the trial.

Definitely! We want to know if you have changed how you use the city at night to inform the trial but also how we strategically manage the night time economy generally.

Contact us

Emily Davies O'Sullivan

City Activation Officer

Phone: (02) 4974 2000
Email: mail@ncc.nsw.gov.au

Project timeline

15 September 2020
Community survey open
We'd like to hear about your experiences in Newcastle after dark, including where you visit, what you do and ideas for night time activities. Even if you don’t really go out at night, we’d love to hear why!
17 September 2020
Public exhibition of amendment to the Newcastle LEP closes
Public exhibition of a proposed amendment to the Newcastle Local Environmental Plan 2012, which will allow a trial of extended trading hours for low impact venues, closes.
From October 2020
Low impact venue trial starts
As part of the State Government trial, a number of low impact venues will be able extend their opening hours to 2am. During this time we'll be inviting the community to have their say on the trial - look out for our short survey in participating venues.
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