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Making outdoor dining approvals easier in time for summer

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is proposing to amend the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP) to allow outdoor dining as exempt development for small bars and pubs in all NSW local government areas. The proposal aims to facilitate outdoor dining by extending the existing exempt development pathway which is currently in place for outdoor dining in cafes and restaurants, to small bars and pubs. Last week the NSW Government announced its intention to slash red tape to allow small bars and pubs across the State to apply for an outdoor dining licence without needing planning approval.

With summer starting in only a few weeks, the Government say they are determined to do all they can to ensure businesses and customers get the most out of the warmer weather and help generate much-needed social and economic activity in our local communities.

A 12-month trial of a streamlined application process for outdoor dining and drinking is already underway in The Rocks, with a second pilot set to start in the Sydney CBD in the coming weeks.

Shelley Hancock, Minister for Local Government, said "I am pleased to say that the Government is exploring further changes so that all councils can take advantage of the new arrangements and implement similar streamlined processes in time for summer.

"Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet behind us, with restrictions easing there is a tremendous opportunity for businesses to expand their trade, create jobs, and stimulate local economies.

"That’s why I am encouraging all councils, in consultation with their communities, to identify areas within their towns, where outdoor dining is appropriate and encourage businesses to use these areas. For example, there might be an unused carpark next to a premises, or some sunny pavement out the front of a restaurant – these could be perfect spaces to use for alfresco dining.

"Councils can also examine how outdoor dining can be fast-tracked by considering the issues associated with approving outdoor dining sites, such as amenity and public safety.

"After a year of so many challenges, I want all councils, their communities and local businesses to be able to enjoy the benefits of less red tape in conjunction with the warm weather and extended daylight hours.

I encourage all councils to read this document outlining how councils can begin this process.

Further guidance for councils is currently being prepared.

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