Small bars

Small bars

Changing culture

In an effort to reactivate parts of the city centre, and to build a diverse, eclectic and unique night time culture, the City of Sydney encourages a varied mix of venues such as small bars.

Before you can open a small bar you must first find out if development consent is needed for the proposed premises. If consent is not required because there is an existing development approval and there are no changes required to the conditions of consent, you can apply for a liquor licence directly with the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing.

However, if development consent is required for the premises, you will need to lodge a development application (DA).

To help you obtain the necessary approvals we have put together a series of resources such as a video of our Small Bars 101 Workshop and several documents, which can be downloaded below:

  • How to open a small bar in the city
  • How to open a small bar (flowchart)
  • How to apply for a street or laneway event
  • Small bars DA assessment process*
  • How to complete the DA form for a small bar*
  • Food and drink premises DA form
  • Food and drink premises DA fact sheet.

* These documents are for guidance purposes only.

Please note: liquor licence applications and footpath usage applications can be submitted at the same time but approval will not be provided until development consent has been obtained. We suggest contacting a City planner for more information on 02 9265 9333.


To discuss opening a small bar, please contact:

Alice Chatwood
A/Manager, Business Precincts
02 9265 9831


NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing

101 Small Bar Workshop

Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP
The Lord Mayor introduces the City's '101' Small Bar Workshop and talks about the success of small bars in Sydney.

Martin O'Sullivan and Belinda Lai, Co-owners, Grasshopper

Martin O'Sullivan is co-owner of Grasshopper and current Head of the Small Bar Association of NSW. Mr O'Sullivan has worked tirelessly in the establishment of the Association and furthering the public awareness for Small Bars. He has over 12 years' experience in hospitality management. He previously worked in IT, within the Finance industry.
Belinda W Lai is co-owner of Grasshopper and has a Masters in Finance and Accounting from UNSW. She has over 10 years' experience in running restaurants. She previously worked in Risk Management in the Banking Industry. Ms Lai works on the fundraising committee of Gallery 4a (Asian Australian Arts Foundation), to raise funds and awareness for contemporary Asian-Australian art.
Grasshopper was one of the first small bars to open in the Sydney CBD. It also received one of the first Finegrain Business Development Matched Grants, which were established to help the development of start-up small businesses.

Liam Saville, Licensed Premises Coordinator, City of Sydney

Liam Saville has worked for the City of Sydney in a variety of roles, including as Project Coordinator with the City's Safe City Unit and as Operations Coordinator in the City Rangers. Mr Saville has worked as the Licensed Premises Coordinator within the Late Night & Licensed Premises Team for the past two years and is currently responsible for the Kings Cross area.

Download MP4 (174.5 MB)
Listen/Download MP3 (22 MB)

Last updated: Monday, 12 October 2015