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Placemaking NSW

The Rocks Commercial Outdoor Seating Fee Policy

Aims and objectives

The aim of this Policy is to establish a clear pricing regime for licenced outdoor seating in The Rocks, which:

  • encourages outdoor seating that continues activating the precinct at street level recognises areas of high demand
  • encourages the use of outdoor seating to activate underutilised areas
  • creates linkages throughout the precinct to encourage pedestrian exploration and improve navigation
  • builds a vibrant, interesting and safe atmosphere that invites people to linger in the precinct for long periods.

Relationship to plans and policies

This Policy is to be read in conjunction with

Commercial seating zones


This Policy applies to all licensed outdoor seating areas within The Rocks. Licensed areas refer to the special use of the public domain, such as promenades, footpaths, thoroughfares, squares and places that are not a part of the tenant’s normal property lease. These areas are subject to individual special licence arrangements on a commercial basis.

The new pricing for outdoor seating is divided into three zones, with each zone attracting a different annual fee:

Price Zone 1: $650/m2

Price Zone 2: $230/m2

Price Zone 3: $180/m2

These price zones are in accordance with the City of Sydney’s and are applicable to 1 March 2018 (GST inclusive).

Assessment criteria

In determining the pricing zones for outdoor seating, the following criteria were considered:

Adjoining land use: To ensure seating occurs to support existing and future uses, while not creating conflict with pedestrians and adjacent uses. 
Topography: To acknowledge steeper gradients will affect the viability and pricing of potential seating locations. 
Pedestrian movement: To encourage activation of streets and laneways with low pedestrian activity. 
Remarkable locations: To reflect that the existing public realm experience will affect the desirability of potential seating locations. 
Access network: To identify and activate poorly utilised spaces.

As an active, evolving precinct, uses and occupation will change over time and this Policy and its pricing zones will be subject to regular review.

Where this Policy applies

For the purpose of this Policy, The Rocks is defined as the area bordered by Grosvenor Street to the south, Circular Quay to the east, Lower Fort Street and Cumberland Street to the west. Note that any current outdoor seating area with approval is not affected by this Policy. This Policy applies only to new development applications or changes to existing licensed seating areas.