Posted on May 19, 2024 by James King and Katie Mortimer

Vibrancy Reforms Bill Passed by Parliament

On 16 May 2024, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Vibrancy Reforms) Bill 2024 (Bill) was passed by NSW Parliament. The Bill is now awaiting assent and will commence on a date to be proclaimed.

The Bill will insert a new Part to Schedule 8 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EPA Act) that provides:

  • the Planning Secretary may, after consultation with the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner, issue vibrancy guidelines to ‘enable venues to operate in a way that achieves their full social, business and cultural potential, particularly as part of the night-time economy’,
  • when a consent authority determines an ‘extended hours of operation application’ the consent authority must have regard to the vibrancy guidelines (more on that below).

The requirement to have regard to the Vibrancy Guidelines will be in addition to any other requirements under the EPA Act or any other Act. The Bill includes a savings provision, making the amendments it makes to the EPA Act only apply to an ‘extended hours of operation application’ made after the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Vibrancy
Reforms) Act 2024 commences.

The Bill was intended to ensure that consent authorities consider the Government’s vibrancy agenda as an integral part of the merit assessment process for applications to extend trading hours, however in practice, it may be that not many applications require consideration of the Vibrancy Guidelines.

Vibrancy Guidelines 

The Vibrancy Guidelines have not yet been issued. The Minister for Planning and Public Spaces has indicated they will be developed following the passage of the Bill and are intended to be the subject of detailed public consultation, including with local councils, stakeholders within the hospitality industry and the wider community.

The Minister also stated that the guidelines will address the consideration of the potential impacts of later trading, such as sound, light spill, safety and amenity.

‘Extended Hours of Operation Applications’ when the Vibrancy Guidelines need to be considered

The Vibrancy Guidelines must be considered when a consent authority determines an ‘extended hours of operation application’.

The Bill defines an ‘extended hours of operation application’ to be a development application or modification application for hours of operation that extend beyond 7pm on any night of the week, made in relation to ‘relevant food and drink premises’.

Interestingly, ‘relevant food and drink premises’ mean ‘food and drink premises’ as defined in the Standard Instrument that are:

  • not located:
    • within a special entertainment precinct within the meaning of section 202 of the Local Government Act 1993, or
    • not located within an area zoned R1, R2, R3, R4 or R5 within the meaning of the Standard Instrument, and
  • situated on land that is 500m or more from the nearest residential accommodation within the meaning of the standard instrument (dwelling houses, residential flat buildings and shop top housing).

For consideration of the Vibrancy Guidelines to be mandated, a premise will need to be on land 500m or more from the nearest residential accommodation. Given this, we query whether there will be many ‘relevant food and drink premises’ in metropolitan areas outside CBDs that will be captured.

We will post further once the Vibrancy Guidelines are available.

To discuss this post please contact James King on 8235 9722 or Katie Mortimer on 8235 9716.