Supporting the evening economy

Article image - Supporting the evening economy The Howlin’ Wolf Bar in Wollongong

When it comes to laneway bars and cafés, Wollongong is making its mark as a go-to destination.

In the past two years, up to 50 new evening cafés and small bars have opened in central Wollongong.

Wollongong City Council has played an active role in encouraging a vibrant and exciting City Centre and supporting growth in the city’s evening economy.

To this end, Council has implemented changes to its alfresco dining Development Application process, introduced an Evening Economy Action Plan, and seen a weekly evening Eat Street market in the Crown Street Mall become a regular attraction.

The Council’s General Manager, David Farmer, said, “Wollongong is a city that’s going through a time of rapid change. In our City Centre alone we have more than $1 billion of major constructions either underway or completed in the past 12 months.

“The university and the health services sector are growing, and have become major employers in the region. However, at the same time, our traditional steel and coal mining industries are reducing their workforces. It’s essential Council takes a leading and pro-active role in encouraging a new future for the city.’’

The work Council has done to streamline the Development Application processes for alfresco dining and the adoption of an Evening Economy Action Plan, which focuses on reinvigorating the City after 5pm, have paved the way for new small businesses, bars and cafés to open. It also builds on the legacy of the recent $19.4 million refurbishment of the Crown Street Mall and revitalised City Centre.

Council officers take a hands-on approach by offering assistance in the preparation of Development Applications, facilitating meetings with Licensing Police and helping with the preparation of Liquor Licence Applications.

“The social, economic and physical landscape of our City and our region is changing on a daily basis and the challenge Council faces is to make sure we’re keeping pace with the changing needs of the community,’’ Mr Farmer said.

“We’re meeting this challenge by working closely with those opening retail shops, restaurants, cafés and small bars and helping them establish businesses that meet the needs of those living in Wollongong’s inner city, as well as people drawn from the surrounding suburbs.’’

This focus has seen a welcome change in the Local Government Area’s crime statistics. According to the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Wollongong now has the lowest rates of alcohol-fuelled violence of the largest eight centres in NSW. The city has seen a 47 percent decrease in alcohol related assault, and a 68 percent decrease in alcohol related violence since 2009.