General News

Streamlined outdoor dining rules will help local economies – but support funding needed

NSW’s peak body for local government has welcomed the State Government announcement on streamlined outdoor dining and entertainment rules and hoped it would be backed up with adequate funding for councils to create a vibrant outdoor experience to help local communities recover.

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott said the new rules permitted councils to opt-in to new arrangements, which would streamline State approvals and allow local businesses to tap into outdoor dining opportunities resulting from warmer weather and necessitated by COVID restrictions.

“Local governments are working incredibly hard to drive jobs growth at the local level as part of a locally-led economic recovery from COVID,” Cr Scott said
“This announcement will make it easier for councils to support our local cafes and restaurants to operate outdoors, creating jobs while balancing the needs of local residents.

“Councils across the state are already doing stellar work to support their local business communities through a range of initiatives to foster a vibrant outdoor and night life with the resources available to them. These rule changes will definitely make it easier.”

Cr Scott said councils across NSW knew outdoor dining, performance spaces and open space in general were critical components in drawing out visitors and driving economic recovery from COVID.

“Councils’ ability to generate income is strictly limited by the State Government. LGNSW is calling on the NSW Government to provide $100 million in funding for councils to support these new arrangements and accelerate a locally-led economic recovery,” she said.

“A good example is the Victorian Government’s $87.5 million outdoor eating and entertainment package.

“Councils already invest significant time and resources in ensuring public spaces used by the public, including restaurants and cafes for outdoor dining, beaches, parks and other outdoor places are clean, vibrant, well-maintained and effectively regulated to ensure safety.

“This investment helps to create an environment that benefits the community and businesses alike.

“The relaxation of State outdoor dining and entertainment rules is a tremendous start, and LGNSW is glad the NSW Government listened to our concerns and allowed councils to retain a deciding role in approving local applications. Importantly, no council will be forced to join the new arrangements.

“But it will cost a significant amount of money to create a welcoming outdoor environment and breathe life into the sector, and councils are not in a position to pay for it alone.

“LGNSW looks forward to working further with the NSW Government to help implement the changes to the rules and support local economic recovery.”

The NSW Government rule relaxation follows discussions with councils. The timeline for roll-out of the relaxed outdoor dining rules across NSW: 

  • 16 October – The Rocks precinct of the City of Sydney
  • 1 November – City of Sydney LGA
  • 1 December – all LGAs

Each area will trial the new arrangements for 12 months from the date of commencement.