Darby Street's outdoor dining on the table to stay
Extended outdoor dining options could be here to stay on Newcastle’s renowned eat street following a successful six-month trial by City of Newcastle.
Councillors will vote next week to retain the popular raised outdoor dining deck installed along a section of Darby Street under the NSW Government’s Streets as Shared Spaces initiative.
Key features of the trial recommended to be retained include the raised outdoor dining deck, a pedestrian crossing adjacent to the Headphones Courtyard and the reduction of the speed limit to 30km/h.
Extensive consultation was undertaken with businesses, residents, and the community before and during the trial, which was designed to encourage increased visitation and trade along Darby Street after the impacts of COVID-19 while also improving pedestrian and cyclist safety.
Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said feedback from businesses and the community showed strong support for the improvements.
"In the first three months of the trial we saw a 67% increase in visitation, a 13% increase in cyclists using Darby Street, and average vehicle speeds north of Council Street were reduced from 42km/h to 30km/h," Cr Nelmes said.
"Overall, most people (69%) who provided feedback in our online survey support retaining the trial infrastructure.
"This trial gave us a unique opportunity to try new things and test ideas for community spaces and we can take these learnings to other commercial areas across the Newcastle LGA."
Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said he worked closely with a small number of businesses and residents who raised concerns about the loss of parking and noise impacts from the traffic calming infrastructure.
"During the trial we had some feedback that noise was being generated by speed humps at the southern entry of the 30km/h zone while others provided feedback about cyclist safety at the northern entry,” Cr Clausen said.
"Should the infrastructure be retained, these items would be addressed with a revised design for the traffic calming infrastructure, which would be placed on public exhibition in April for the community to review and comment on.
"We also heard that the community supported the continuation of the free, two-hour timed parking in the Queen Street carpark which was introduced to compensate for on-street parking losses."
Council will consider the future of the trial infrastructure at next week’s Council meeting.
The trial was made possible with a $500,000 grant from the NSW Government through the Streets as Shared Spaces program (Round 2) and funding from the City of Newcastle's Urban Centres Program.