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Statewide NSW outdoor dining trial

The department has streamlined planning approvals under a trial of outdoor dining to support local venues and rejuvenate the economy across the summer months.

The global pandemic means it can be better to socialise outdoors and NSW has the perfect climate for outdoor dining, which brings life and vibrancy to our streets and public spaces.

The statewide outdoor dining trial started on 1 December 2020 and will end on 31 October 2021.

Amendment to the Codes SEPP

The department has amended the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP) to extend the existing exempt development pathway for outdoor dining available to restaurants and cafes, to small bars and pubs.

The amendment facilitates streamlined approvals for outdoor dining in appropriate locations, provided that the venues operate in accordance with any required approvals under the Roads Act 1993 and the Local Government Act 1993, and any licence conditions under the Liquor Act 2007. If the outdoor dining area is under an awning, the awning must comply with the requirements set out in the Building Code of Australia.

During the trial, councils will assess venues’ applications for outdoor dining in accordance with their adopted outdoor dining policies and guidelines. Councils who would like support with their outdoor dining policies and guidelines should contact the Office of Local Government.

The amendment does not include the City of Sydney LGA or The Rocks, which were subject to separate processes.

The Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE) was on public exhibition from 26 October until 8 November 2020.

Frequently asked questions

Why do we need the amendment?

The City of Sydney Council and Place Management NSW proposed the outdoor dining initiative in the CBD to create an alfresco city that combines outdoor dining, bars, cultural events and late-night trading.

This objective was supported by the NSW Government’s Outdoor Dining Taskforce.

The Government extended this opportunity across the State recognising that other communities and businesses could benefit from these measures to help businesses to recover from the impacts of the bushfire, drought and the Covid-19 pandemic. Additional outdoor dining will support increased levels of domestic tourism. It allows businesses to provide space for social distancing and for the public to safely enjoy a range of dining experiences during the summer and beyond.

What support is there for councils?

The Office of Local Government has published guidance and information to support councils to make the outdoor dining approval process simpler and easier for business owners.

If your council is interested in joining the trial to streamline the application process, email the Office of Local Government at [email protected]

How can venues apply?

The amendment does not automatically mean that venues can trade outside or on the footpath. Venues must seek council’s approval in line with the council’s outdoor dining policies and guidelines, other approvals are also needed under the Roads Act 1993, the Local Government Act 1993 and any changes to liquor licences issued under the Liquor Act 2007.

  • If you have any questions about outdoor dining or how your business can apply, contact your local council for details of their requirements.
  • For more information on the exhibition of the EIE, phone our information centre on 1300 305 695. If English isn't your first language and you prefer an interpreter, phone 13 14 50. Ask for an interpreter in your language and then request to be connected to our information centre.