‘Burbs with no beer

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - BEN PIKE

IT seems the Slim Dusty song was right — there is noth­ing more lone­some or drear than a sub­urb with no beer.

One in five Syd­ney sub­urbs don’t have a pub or club, mean­ing there is nowhere to meet or chat over a beer and a meal.

Worse, many outer Syd­ney sub­urbs are also lack­ing a lo­cal cor­ner store or other small re­tail out­let.

Now Western Syd­ney Busi­ness Cham­ber direc­tor David Borger is out to change that.

Mr Borger is call­ing on coun­cils, in­dus­try and the state govern­ment to find a way to give Syd­ney’s “cold” sub­urbs a new lease on life.

“We need to retro­fit sub­urbs and make then more amenable and walk­a­ble,” Mr Borger said.

“We can learn from the 19th cen­tury sub­urbs close to the city. Peo­ple want to visit them be­cause they are live­able and amenable.

“Pubs, cor­ner stores and other lo­cal re­tail — that is how you build re­la­tion­ships with neigh­bours.”

Of the 658 sub­urbs in Syd­ney, at least 141 (21 per cent) of them don’t have a pub or club.

A to­tal of 52 don’t have a liquor li­cence (bot­tle shop or restau­rant) of any kind, anal­y­sis of Liquor & Gam­ing NSW fig­ures re­veal.

Many of Syd­ney’s dry sub­urbs are in Western Syd­ney, in­clud­ing Cam­den Park, Bow Bow­ing and Old Toongab­bie.

Most dry sub­urbs also rate poorly on Walk Score, an in­ter­na­tional web­site which mea­sures how car-re­liant in­di­vid­ual sub­urbs are.

The most walk­a­ble Syd­ney sub­urbs out­side the CBD, such as Crows Nest, Rock­dale, Brookvale, Bur­wood and Kog­a­rah are also ones with at least one pub.

Mr Borger said sub­urbs served only by a limited num­ber of large shop­ping cen­tres and “drink­ing ware­houses” have made walk­ing to pick up some milk or have a beer an im­pos­si­bil­ity.

“Tra­di­tional land use zon­ing has cre­ated ster­ilised neigh­bour­hoods where em­ploy­ment and re­tail are ab­sent and this has made life in­con­ve­nient and ex­pen­sive for many Syd­ney res­i­dents,” Mr Borger said in a let­ter to the state govern­ment’s Greater Syd­ney Com­mis­sion.

“I be­lieve govern­ment should work in part­ner­ship with the pri­vate sec­tor to iden­tify neigh­bour­hoods across Syd­ney that have the ca­pac­ity to sus­tain new neigh­bour­hood re­tail shop­ping. Lo­cal coun­cils have been slow to iden­tify these is­sues and neigh­bour­hood place mak­ing is rarely cen­tral to strate­gic con­sid­er­a­tions.”

In Au­gust the NSW De­part­ment of Plan­ning changed the rules to make it eas­ier for “neigh­bour­hood su­per­mar­kets” and lo­cal shops to in­crease their re­tail foot­print.

As Greater Syd­ney’s pop­u­la­tion grows over the next 20 years, there will be a need for more than five mil­lion square me­tres of ad­di­tional re­tail floor space and ad­di­tional stand-alone of­fice de­vel­op­ments, ac­cord­ing to the Greater Syd­ney Com­mis­sion.

A GSC spokesman said 18 Greater Syd­ney coun­cils have been given $45 mil­lion “to do lo­cal strate­gic plan­ning … that fo­cuses on mixed use cen­tres, fine grain de­sign and walk­a­bil­ity that lo­cal cen­tres re­quire to be suc­cess­ful”.

A spokesman for Liquor and Gam­ing NSW said the de­part­ment “sup­ports stronger links be­tween plan­ning and liquor laws, and is ex­plor­ing op­tions to guide stake­hold­ers through the ap­pli­ca­tion process”.

The Oat­ley Ho­tel is the lo­cal pub ev­ery sub­urb wishes it had — the food is good, it’s easy to get to and has a rep­u­ta­tion as a hub for the area.

Oat­ley woman Donna-Lee Clift, along with Amy Lee Richards, Nina Wood and Char­lotte Levi, work nearby and of­ten come in for lunch.

“The pub is pretty low-key in that any­one can walk in the door and feel pretty re­laxed,” Mrs Clift, who has been com­ing to the pub for 20 years, said.

“You might have fa­mous foot­ballers come in but no­body re­ally both­ers them.

“This is a meet­ing spot for a lot of lo­cals.”

Ge­off Green­wood said while the place has un­der­gone a few changes since he first walked through the door in 1968, other things haven’t.

“The ca­ma­raderie at the pub hasn’t changed and is a big rea­son why I keep com­ing back,” he said. “I also love the food and the fact that I can walk home.”

Nina Wood and Char­lotte Levi en­joy The Oat­ley Ho­tel but too many sub­urbs don’t have a meet­ing place like this. Pic­ture: Dar­ren Leigh Roberts

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