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Sydney’s $4 Million Outdoor Dining Experiment is Being Extended Until 2025

At the cost of $4 million in lost council revenue, The City of Sydney will waive outdoor dining fees until mid-2025 extending metropolitan alfresco dining from Totti’s near Wynard to Tio’s in Surry Hills. But landlords, beware! Lord Mayor Clover Moore warns the two-year extension “should not be seen by others as an opportunity to increase rents or unfairly favour some in the community over others”. Calling for the continued support of businesses, Moore wants to “ensure alfresco dining is embedded in the streets of Sydney.”

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Image: Road Trip with Raj

The City of Sydney wants alfresco dining to become as permanent in Sydney as bin chickens. Waiving outdoor dining fees until June 2025, the Council must find a way to prevent landlords from increasing rent fees for restaurant and cafe owners, all while missing out on a cool $4 million in revenue. Why? “People have really embraced it, with participating businesses telling us they’ve taken on extra staff and seen increased patronage – a crucial aid to staying afloat in these difficult times,” said Moore in her mayoral minute on Monday.

The changes will allow hospitality venues to increase the space they use on footpaths, extend their trading hours, apply to use on-street car parking spaces for outdoor dining, and host live entertainment in outdoor dining areas.

There’s just one catch. From May, applications will need to be made with the Council for approval to continue outdoor dining on streets and roads, with Moore citing “increasing” demand for on-street parking, despite the City’s attempts to remove cars from the CBD. For example, the pedestrian boulevard of George Street will be extended from Bathurst Street to Railway Square, adding 9,000 square metres of additional car-free space in the city centre.


Image: Charmaine

Couple that with the 4,460 square metres of alfresco dining that has already been installed on footpaths and roads from more than 500 restaurants and cafes, and you’ve got a pretty good business case for expanding the operation – which will now include all food and drink premises. Other changes to outdoor dining concern the visually impaired, with a clear path of travel required for all alfresco dining areas and coloured chairs to improve visibility. According to the Council website, the original 2m clear path of travel was reduced during Covid-19 to enable more outdoor dining.

Operators must also ensure any non-coloured street furniture has a luminance contrast of at least 30 per cent to the surface, i.e. they need to be reflective. And according to documents tabled by the city council, there is a requirement for “French Bistro” Rattan-style chairs with matching colours in the Cenotaph block of Martin Place and the central section of George Street, which is nice. We can also say goodbye to sandwich boards, A-frames and other similar signage, as these common trip hazards are now banned.

For those seeking a new yet familiar alfresco dining experience in Sydney, why not check out the seasonal lunch bar menu at the recently reopened Hyde Park cafe on the corner of Liverpool and Elizabeth street? With more than $20 million of upgrades and renovations over the last eight years, the Hydeaway cafe nabbed a 2022 NSW Architecture Award for small project architecture.

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Elliot Nash

Elliot Nash

Elliot Nash is a journalist and content producer from Sydney with over five years’ experience in the digital media space. He holds a Bachelor of Communications (Media Arts & Production) from the University of Technology Sydney and a Diploma of Screen & Media from the Northern Sydney Institute of TAFE. Specialising in pop culture, news & current affairs, photography, audio and hi-fi, Elliot’s work has featured in 9News.com.au, 7NEWS.com.au, Next Luxury, Alive Radio and WhistleOut. He currently works as a Context Executive at Yoghurt Digital.