Since their implementation in March 2014, the lockout laws have had a devastating effect on Sydney's nightlife, but an effort to reverse the damage from the City of Sydney does give us reason to be cautiously optimistic that the draconian legislation might be wound back so that our once enviable bar scene can be allowed to flourish again and we can stop losing "Most Liveable City" competitions to Melbourne.
The City of Sydney has made a submission to the Liquor & Gaming NSW Review of the Small Bars Legislation, calling on the NSW government to increase the capacity of a small bar license to 120 patrons from the current 60-person limit. The submission also requests that the trading restrictions on the small bars within the lockout zone be relaxed so that smaller capacity venues can trade until 2am.
It's a step in the right direction to mitigate the sweeping reforms that have had a detrimental impact on Sydney's nightlife and after-hours economy. We've seen bars and restaurants close due to the decline in foot traffic, plus other businesses in the lockout zone like newsagents and retailers.
The proposed changes would mean that nearly 100 existing venues within the City of Sydney local government area would be reclassified as small bars and the hope is that the new provisions would mean more license applications were received.
In addition to capacity and trading hours, the submission covers ways of streamlining application processes and removing loadings to make the licensing process easier and more attractive to prospective bar operators.
Feeling thirsty? Here's a list of Sydney bars outside the lockout zone.