​Liquor licence freezes

A liquor licence freeze applies in the Kings Cross (PDF, 267KB) and Sydney CBD Entertainment (PDF, 1.4MB) precincts until 1 June 2019.

What does the freeze mean?

While the freeze is in place, liquor licences cannot be granted for:

  • Hotels and general bars
  • Registered clubs
  • Packaged liquor outlets (for example, liquor stores or bottle shops)
  • Many public entertainment venues (for example, traditional nightclubs that have a regular focus on providing pre-recorded music and a range of DJ entertainment)

It also prevents these licence types from being moved from premises outside the precincts to new locations in the CBD and Kings Cross.

The freeze prevents the grant of a related development consent by the City of Sydney.

The freeze also restricts the granting of some related licence authorisations and changes to licence conditions. In particular, permanent extensions to trading hours and increases to patron capacity are typically not possible.

Who is not affected by the freeze?

The freeze does not prevent the grant of:

  • On-premises licences for:
    • Public entertainment venues that regularly provide live music entertainment (other than pre-recorded music), as well as multi-functional venues that regularly combine the live music with visual or performance arts or other cultural events
    • Public entertainment venues that are cinemas and theatres
    • Restaurants, cafés and caterers
  • Small bar licences
  • Producer/wholesaler licences

In most cases it is also possible for applications to be considered to vary the above licences, extend trading hours, or expand their licensed boundaries and overall patron capacity.

What is the special exemption for live music, arts and cultural entertainment venues?

A licensed public entertainment venue, under the NSW liquor laws, includes premises that operate under an on-premises liquor licence where the venue's primary purpose is public entertainment rather than the sale or supply of alcohol.

Due to a special exemption, an on-premises licence can be granted for this type of venue in limited circumstances where it will regularly provide:

  • live music entertainment (other than pre-recorded music); or
  • a combination of live music entertainment (other than pre-recorded music) and visual or performance arts or other cultural events.

Existing licensed public entertainment venues that meet either of the above criteria are also exempt from the freeze and may seek to vary their licensing arrangements.

How do I access this?

If you are intending to rely on this special exemption, you must be able to demonstrate your venue meets the criteria as part of your application. If not, the freeze provisions will still apply.

You should include relevant evidence and information in support, such as:

  • Key benefits of the proposal to the live music, arts and creative sectors, including how it supports and meets demand for new permanent venue spaces for live music and the arts
  • A development consent, where available, from the local council that shows the nature of the business conducted at the premises aligns with the criteria
  • Relevant business plans and ticketing approaches  
  • Information about the type of music, visual or performance art or other cultural events staged at the premises (for example, existing venues should provide a schedule of events)
  • Information about whether the premises is covered by an APRA AMCOS live music licence
  • Any other information that supports that the regular focus will be on live music entertainment (rather than pre-recorded music), including where one or more persons are engaged to play or perform live music in person
  • Any other evidence or information you consider useful in showing the regular focus is on providing the relevant entertainment, arts or cultural events

In some cases, you may also be asked to provide further supporting information after lodging your application.

Standard community consultation requirements apply. For new licences or extended trading hours, you will need to consult with the community about the impacts of your proposal, including benefits and costs, and document the results as part of your application. This typically occurs as part of completing a Category B Community Impact Statement

This helps to inform decision makers on the merits of the proposal, who must also be satisfied the overall social impact will not be detrimental to the wellbeing of the local or broader community.

​Related links

Liquor licences