Midnight markets, late-night art shows or cinema showing that goes until the wee hours could all be possible under a new Wollongong council policy to encourage more after dark activity.
The new policy will allow more businesses - including small bars, restaurants, cultural venues, function centres, entertainment facilities, markets and kiosks - to open late, in an effort to reinvigorate the city's "night time economy".
The policy excludes pubs and clubs, which will still have to work with police to determine their hours, and will apply only to the city centre within commercial, mixed use and tourist zones.
The chosen businesses will be able to stay open until 2am indoors and outdoors between Thursday and Saturday in commercial zones away from residential buildings, and until 2am indoors and 12am outdoors in the mixed use and tourism zones.
The council said these areas represented established night time economy areas and "represent least risk for impacts on existing residents".
Under the council's policy, late-night trading will be approved under a one or two-year trial period when necessary, so that any negative effects can be assessed before it is made permanent.
Greens councillor Mithra Cox, who has long pushed for more activity within the CBD said the policy would help new businesses.
"There has been a reluctance to approve late-night trading hours for any new businesses, so only existing businesses are able to trade past midnight, and for restaurants it's 10pm, which is really early," she said.
"That means the concentration of late-night venues at the moment is basically the big pubs that have been around for ever.
"So the really significant and exciting thing about this policy is that means new players will be more easily able to get a late night trading license, which means there will be more options for people, and most of those newer players are smaller venues."
She also welcomed the inclusion of venues like galleries, performance spaces, retailers and other non-alcohol-based businesses in the late night economy.
"You could go and wander around in a bookshop at midnight, or go and see a play - and that's what makes a place feel really happening," she said.
"Also, if you go somewhere to see a band or a play, if restaurants are able to open later you might be able to get dinner at 10pm instead of having to eat at 5pm."
She also said having more places open later would also make the city safer, as it would mean less people out on the streets trying to find a late night venue..
"In terms of public safety and people having a good night, limiting the amount people have to schlep around is really important," she said.
"If venues can stay open later, then you're not going to be kicked out and spend time walking around trying to find somewhere else to go."
Deputy Lord Mayor Tania Brown, who lives in the CBD, said late trading hours were "a fine balance" between businesses and residents, but believed extended late night trade could be a lifeline to venues recovering from the coronavirus downturn.
The councils' draft policy will go on exhibition for 28 days following next week's council meeting.
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