Council to debate small bars

The growing push for small bars in the inner-city will be debated by Newcastle City Council next week.

Labor councillor Nuatali Nelmes has lodged a motion and wants the council to develop a strategy that would encourage small bars and greater diversity to Newcastle’s night-time economy.

The issue has been simmering for several months, since Newcastle residents strongly backed a petition calling on the city to encourage a mix of night-time venues in the CBD, including small bars.

The petition has been followed by a successful ‘‘pop-up small bar event’’, public debate and the approval of a Hunter Street small bar, The Terrace Bar.

The push has met some resistance, with advocates of licensing restrictions arguing that studies show a direct link between the density of liquor outlets and alcohol-related violence.

Those who support small bars argue that encouraging different types of venues can assist to break down the ‘‘booze barn’’ culture that exists in Newcastle after dark.

Cr Nelmes said there was ongoing demand for a more diverse night-time economy, and that the council should be developing a strategy to guide ‘‘the future of Newcastle at night’’.

She said the council should develop a policy similar to Sydney City Council, which publishes a guide to assist people looking to open a small bar.

‘‘Sydney has done all the legwork,’’ Cr Nelmes said.

‘‘This work would supplement council’s own alcohol management strategy,’’ she said.

Cr Nelmes said the council should also consider planning mechanisms to encourage responsible operators, including a development control plan.

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