By Aimee Chanthadavong

Retailers are among the list of people that have been invited to take part in a public consultation to see what kind of night life Sydney people want.

The City of Sydney has developed a policy for Sydney’s night time economy and are asking retailers, businesses, venue operators and residents for their ideas

Lord Mayor Clover Moore told RetailBiz the council will look at what services and infrastructure are required as Sydney transforms from day to night. 

“Improving the economic diversity in night time economies is a relatively recent concept in western cities increasingly looking at longer trading hours for cultural venues and retail and broadening the range of temporary and innovative events in the evening and at night,” she said.

“Many Asian cities such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, KL and Bangkok have been doing this for years with late retail, night street markets and events not centred around the consumption of alcohol. The streets in these cities are dynamic across the night and populated a diverse range of ages and family groups.

“The City of Sydney is developing a policy for Sydney's night time economy and asking clubbers, venue operators, businesses, residents, retailers and city visitors for their ideas. There is no quick fix, that's why we are embarking on a massive consultation process now, to get it right for the future.”

The consultation for the policy is being launched with a roundtable meeting with industry leaders from liquor and gaming, restaurants, retail, transport, tourism, entertainment, arts, special events and a representative from a local resident group.
"Currently most cultural venues and cafes operate normal business hours and are not often open till late but things are slowly changing. Some pubs are now offering art exhibitions and cultural institutions are staying open later for special events,” Moore said.
The late night city policy public consultation will be open through a public online forum, vox pops that will done on city streets and target focus group sessions involving community stakeholders such as Justin Hemmes.
In addition to the public consultation, the City has commissioned research looking at the value of the night time economy and assessing international evidence of what makes global cities safe at night.
Moore said in order to make it a robust policy, there needs to be solid evidence-based research.

"The City is preparing a comprehensive report examining pedestrian volumes, anti-social behaviour and how people enter and leave late night entertainment areas,” she said."And we have commissioned cost-benefit analysis to measure the economic value of Sydney's nightlife, as well as the economic costs.  This research is expected mid year and will feed into the development of the late night policy."

Preliminary research conducted in 2010 found that the City is experiencing visitor numbers equivalent to a major event every weekend. Between 11am and 3am on a Saturday night more than 20,000 people – the capacity of Acer Arena – visited Darlinghurst Road in Kings Cross.
The highest pedestrian volumes were recorded in Bayswater Road between 1am and 2am with more than 2000 people moving through every 20 minutes – the equivalent of the weekday morning peak hour in Martin Place.
“Later trading is more likely to attract people to linger in the City centre and other areas longer, attracting a more diverse crowd.  This is the case in cities like Paris.  It is this diversity of population and increased number of people on the street which improves safety,” Moore said.

“By increasing passive surveillance and perceptions of safety, this will also have economic benefits for retailers, restaurants and cafes who may only operate daytime hours at present.”

It is expected that a draft discussion paper for the night time policy will go to Council later this year.