The City of Sydney is simplifying application processes and extending licence periods to encourage al fresco dining and create a more vibrant city.
The draft outdoor dining policy, guidelines and action plan, now online for public feedback, are designed to meet the needs of residents, visitors and businesses.
The plans also allow for more outdoor retail displays to increase passing trade and make the streets more attractive.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City listened to accessibility advocates, businesses and other stakeholders to make sure the draft policy struck a balance between the differing community needs.
“Sydney’s renowned for its outdoor dining experiences,” the Lord Mayor said.
“When the weather’s so good, it’s no surprise people prefer to sit outdoors.
“There are around 480 outdoor dining areas across the inner city and with each one we need to ensure people with disability, vision impairment or other access needs can easily and freely navigate the footpath.
“The new policy allows a more flexible approach to outdoor seating taking into consideration accessibility, safety, topography, the width of the footpath, and how many pedestrians are using the area.
“Whether you own a business, live in the area or visit, I encourage you to check out the policy at sydneyyoursay.com.au and give us your feedback.”
The draft policy includes an easier and more efficient application process for businesses, and approvals can be granted for up to seven years.
In developing this approach, the City sought feedback from Vision Australia, Guide Dogs NSW, local chambers of commerce, liquor accords, business groups, and the Council’s Inclusion (Disability) Advisory and Retail Advisory panels.
The City is also proposing allowing retailers to display goods and merchandise, such as flowers, books and other small items, outside their shops to make streets more appealing and encourage more business.
The City will develop a program to raise awareness of the needs of people with a visual impairment when navigating the footpath.
The City is also investigating the use of visual, tactile or technological cues that will identify a clear path of travel.
Contrasting visual or textural elements can be inserted in the footpath to mark out a clear path, or digital devices can be installed to warn people of impending objects, such as furniture on the footway.
According to Vision Australia, the preferred location of outdoor dining for people with a vision impairment is on the kerbside, but this is not always appropriate, and can pose a safety risk on streets with clearways and bus lanes.
Outdoor dining will not be allowed to impede the clear path of travel in any way, and the draft policy provides flexible guidelines so a solution can be found to meet everyone’s needs.