Liquor licence freeze lifted in Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross precincts

May 5, 2021
By Ioni Doherty

A new approach to managing liquor licensing applications in Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross precincts has begun. It is just one of the reforms being implemented by the New South Wales government to support Sydney’s 24-hour economy.

The NSW government says that lifting the freeze on liquor licences in the CBD and Kings Cross will encourage new business opportunities in suitable areas of the precincts, while still managing the higher-risk locations identified by Liquor and Gaming NSW as being:

  • South Sydney CBD 
  • Darlinghurst/Oxford Street
  • Wynyard Station and surrounds  
  • Kings Cross.

Minister for Digital and Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said the changes would boost jobs, provide the community with more entertainment options, and build on efforts to help revitalise the night-time economy.

“We’ve listened to industry and removed outdated and unnecessary regulations. The new rules give businesses confidence and certainty that we are serious about boosting the 24-hour economy,” Mr Dominello said.

“The economy doesn’t go to sleep at night and neither should our laws. This is about making life easier for businesses, while also prioritising community safety.

NSW’s Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) details the new approach in its Cumulative Impact Assessment in which it states that new licenses and late-night trading for venues in the four above mentioned areas will not be approved, unless applicants make a compelling case about community benefits and the appropriate harm reduction measures that are in place.

Straight to business for small bars

As part of the reforms, the ILGA has designed an interim approval licence so new small bar applicants can start trading as soon as they lodge their liquor licence application online. 

It is similar to the interim approval process granted to restaurants and cafés and means that the small bars can get straight down to business.

Small bars are eligible for the interim approval licence when they:

  • apply for their licence online, seek trading hours no later than 2.00am and do not need a Community Impact Statement 
  • already have required planning approval to use the premises for the purposes of a small bar – the planning approval application must have gone through a public consultation process under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979

All small bars issued with an interim approval must notify the NSW Police and the local consent authority at least two days before trading commences.

Other liquor reforms include:

Live music and entertainment changes

  • Liquor licensing decision-makers are required under NSW liquor laws to consider the need to support employment and other opportunities in the live music industry, and arts, tourism, or community and/or cultural sectors when determining licence applications.
  • NSW Councils have the option to take the lead in managing complaints about noise from inside licensed premises in their local area, including entertainment sound.
  • Councils will also have new powers to establish ‘Special Entertainment Precincts’ where they adopt their own plans to encourage and manage live, amplified music.


Liquor licence fees are due by Saturday, 29 May.

Fee reassessments and waivers 
If you believe your fee notice has been issued incorrectly, you may apply for a fee reassessment. Fee reassessment applications are available between 6 April and 25 July 2021. 

If you are suffering from financial hardship, you may apply for a fee waiver. Fee waiver applications are available between 6 April and 22 May 2021

Visit the Liquor Licenses webpage for information on annual liquor licence fees, waivers and reassessments. 

New payment method for 2021 
The Liquor Licence Manager is a new payment method for your annual fee and includes a secure and instant business-to-business payment method through PayID. 

PayID is faster than BPAY and does not have a limit on the amount of money you can transfer in a single transaction. 

It’s easy to register and only has a $0.55 charge on all standard transactions. 

To register for Liquor Licence Manager, visit the Service NSW website.  

Share the content