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We have made changes to liquor regulation and planning requirements to allow councils across NSW to streamline their approval processes and join the alfresco dining trial.

The trial supports food, beverage, entertainment, arts and cultural businesses to expand their outdoor dining onto areas such as footpaths and public spaces until 31 October 2021.

The City of Sydney and areas such as The Rocks and Darling Harbour are already involved in the trial, with venues benefiting from increased business and the community enjoying dining out in a COVID Safe way.

NSW Government processes streamlined to support the trial

  • Councils can process outdoor dining applications from existing small bars and pubs as exempt development (without needing a development application for the outdoor dining area) until 31 October 2021. This was already the process for food, beverage, entertainment, arts and cultural business venues such as cafes and restaurants. Councils will continue to process outdoor dining approvals under the Roads Act, Local Government Act and their own policies.
  • Once council approves the application, Liquor & Gaming NSW generally approves liquor licence boundary changes (if applicable) within three days, reduced from 30 days. For the trial, Liquor & Gaming NSW have waived the application fee for this change.
  • Councils can use the ePlanning digital service on the NSW Planning Portal to help streamline processes. Councils can use their own application systems if preferred.

Participating in the trial

We encourage councils to join the trial and support local businesses to expand outdoor dining by:

  • identifying areas within towns, central business districts and high streets where outdoor dining could occur or expand
  • streamlining council outdoor dining area approval processes where possible.

The Office of Local Government  is supporting councils to join in the trial and have published guidance materials:

Councils can contact the Office of Local Government for support and advice on joining the trial.

Application processing during the trial

Councils can process outdoor dining applications from existing food, beverage, entertainment, arts, and cultural venues as exempt development.

Councils can use their existing application systems or use the ePlanning digital service on the NSW Planning Portal to help streamline approval processes. ePlanning allows councils to refer an application to Liquor & Gaming NSW (L&G) and NSW Police via the portal, to review the application online and provide their advice.

Councils should promptly notify L&G of an application that requires liquor licence boundary changes to allow L&G to start their pre-screening process. L&G can supply councils with the change of boundaries form for applicants to complete at the same time as their council approval application. Councils using ePlanning can find the form in that system.

Once council approves the application, Liquor & Gaming NSW generally approves liquor licence boundary changes (if applicable) within three days.

We also encourage applications from venues without liquor licences to join the trial.

More information about the process is available in the guide for NSW councils about the trial.

Funding available

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is offering funding through:

These funding programs are complementary to the outdoor dining trial.

Entertainment, arts, and cultural venues

The al fresco dining trial has been extended to entertainment, arts, and cultural venues.  This means these venues such as theatres can expand outdoor dining onto public areas such as footways, open space, and roads.

Subject to council approval, these venues can apply for a temporary change of the liquor licence boundary up until October 31, 2021. 

Other outdoor dining trials

The new, temporary streamlined trial is separate to the NSW Small Business Commission / Service NSW Outdoor Dining Program, which streamlines the application process for permanent outdoor dining for businesses in six participating council areas.

Join the trial

Contact the Office of Local Government to learn more or join the trial.

The trial streamlines NSW Government processes to make it easier for councils to approve outdoor dining for existing food and beverage businesses such as small bars, pubs, cafes, restaurants and entertainment venues.

Businesses interested in streamlined outdoor dining approvals should first contact their council to ask about their participation in the trial. Learn more about which councils are areas are participating below. 

If a council isn’t participating in the trial, venues can continue to apply through the usual outdoor dining application process. Councils or the Service NSW Business Concierge service can help with this.

Keep in mind when applying for outdoor dining:

  • Each council may take a different approach to the streamlined trial to suit their community and approval process. Some may use ePlanning to streamline while others may use their own systems.
  • Identify an appropriate public space next to the venue where outdoor dining could be suitable. Councils might have an outdoor dining policy or requirements that will help.
  • Gather the information needed for the outdoor dining application, for example, the size of the outdoor area, customer capacity, and the type of furniture to be used. Councils will be able to provide more information on what is required.
  • Have an updated COVID-19 Safety Plan in place and follow the latest Public Health Orders.
  • As of January 1 2021, all hospitality venues (except clubs) and hairdressers will be required to use the NSW Government QR code system
  • To learn more about COVID Safe Check-in with the Service NSW app, visit the QR codes page on the NSW Government website
  • Liquor & Gaming NSW may request you update your Plan of Management to include how you will manage the outdoor area.
  • Venues without a liquor licence or where licence boundary changes aren’t appropriate might be able to use a pop-up liquor licence. Venues and councils can contact Liquor & Gaming NSW for more about this licence type.
  • Venues offering outdoor dining need to comply with their usual liquor licence conditions, as well as any specific conditions that apply to the outdoor area. The same regulatory obligations also apply. More information about running a safe outdoor dining area is on the Liquor & Gaming NSW website.

Council or area name More details Contact
City of Parramatta City of Parramatta website contact
City of Sydney City of Sydney website contact
Coogee Randwick City Council website email
Darling Harbour Darling Harbour website email
The Rocks The Rocks website email


Experiences of participating areas and councils

“Restaurants and bars in The Rocks trial are reporting a significant increase in both business and profits, helping them to recover from the ongoing impact of COVID-19, while keeping customers COVID Safe with the extra outdoor dining space. The customers are also very enthusiastic about the new opportunities for alfresco dining and have been quick to embrace it.”  

Sam Romaniuk, CEO, Place Management NSW (which manages The Rocks and Darling Harbour precincts)

“Randwick Council has widened footpaths on Coogee Bay Road, by making traffic one-way heading west, to provide approved restaurants and cafes with space for outdoor dining. All of the NSW Government agencies involved in the streamlined process made it easy for us to join the trial and pass the benefits onto our businesses and community.”

Katie Anderson, Manager Cultural Events and Venues, Randwick City Council

Councils interested in learning more or joining the trial can contact the Office of Local Government.

Join the trial

Councils who want to join the trial can email the Office of Local Government.
Outdoor dining in The Rocks
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