Newcastle City Council tuning into Wollongong's lead on live music planning

HOT SCENE: Newcastle has been investigating how Wollongong's live music industry and nighttime economy has thrived over the past four years.
HOT SCENE: Newcastle has been investigating how Wollongong's live music industry and nighttime economy has thrived over the past four years.

DEPUTY Lord Mayor Declan Clausen hopes Newcastle City Council follows Wollongong’s lead by adopting planning changes to prevent live music venues being shut down by noise complaints.

Council is in the midst of developing a draft Live Music Strategy, as part of their larger Newcastle After Dark policy, to deal with growing concerns about the future of the industry, which is under threat from the city’s residential apartment boom.

Part of council’s planning has been to investigate the transformation of Wollongong over the past four years.

In the past three years 65 new small bars and cafes have opened in the Wollongong CBD and the region’s music scene is thriving. 

Some of the success has been credited to Wollongong council’s change to the planning certificate 149, to identity the CBD as an entertainment precinct between the hours of 5pm and midnight. All new residents are made aware of the CBD’s entertainment status before moving into the area.

“We didn’t want our CBD and the precincts around it to be considered a retirement village,” Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said.

“We had to indicate to anyone that was going to buy an apartment in the city that it had implications and you must expect to be caught up in the nightlife.”

Cr Bradbery recently discussed the issue with Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes in North Sydney.

Two weeks ago Cr Clausen spoke at the Parliamentary Inquiry into Music and Arts Economy in NSW on behalf of Newcastle council. 

He said the council was looking to adopt a similar change to certificate 149, so new residents were fully aware of the city’s nighttime economy.

“I think it’s about how we make it, so it’s smooth for the vast majority of people,” Cr Clausen said.

“Being realistic, this kind of change can be hard, particularly for new residents, who think they’re moving into a quiet area. These 149 certificates make sure people are aware that live music is part of a vibrant, global city.”

Read “Sound The Gong” in Saturday’s Weekender for more on the battle to save Newcastle’s music scene.