Concentration vs. Dispersal of a Late-night Economy

By Ryan Van den Nouwelant and Christine Steinmetz.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

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In Sydney, Australia, the emergence of a late-night economy (LNE) has been a response to its role as a global financial centre, a world city, and a tourist destination. The City of Sydney Council considers itself at the vanguard of promoting and managing a vibrant, diverse, and sustainable LNE. The council works to improve business diversity, encourage growth in commercial centres that can accommodate it, and cap growth in centres that are thought to have reached capacity. However, it is difficult to inform future policy directions through the experiences of other areas of Sydney or even other Australian cities as there is no detailed evidence on which to base policies, nor is there a uniform ‘best practice’ in current policy directions. This is a significant problem for the city, one that will become increasingly important for other Australian cities and international locales as their LNEs also expand. This paper aims to improve the understanding of the merits of clustered and dispersed LNEs. The discussion is expanded by a brief examination of evidence from other world cities outlined through a review of existing literature which focuses on the current socio-cultural, economic, and political concerns that surround a LNE. The project’s scholarly significance lies primarily in its triangulation of three fields of literature: the extensive economic literature about developing industry clusters to promote growth and innovation, the growing role of the LNE in the broader economic growth of the city, and the social and environmental impacts of the LNE, particularly the role of business clustering in generating social and environmental impacts.

Keywords: Night-time Economy, Clustering vs. Dispersed, Sydney, Planning

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.31-43. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 532.539KB).

Ryan Van den Nouwelant

Senior Researcher/PhD Candidate, City Futures Research Centre, Faculty of the Built Environment, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Ryan is a Senior Research Officer at City Futures Research Centre at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and is studying for a PhD through UNSW’s Built Environment faculty. Ryan is investigating community conflict associated with the mixed land uses in and around the inner-city neighbourhood and the late trading ‘nightclub district’ of Kings Cross, in Sydney, Australia. Other research interests include examining how urban design, renewal and planning can improve housing delivery and environmental efficiency. With a background in social and design sciences, Ryan worked in natural resource management in Southeast Asia before becoming a town planner. He worked for local government, most recently as the Social/Affordable Housing Planner for the City of Sydney council, before joining City Futures in 2011.

Dr. Christine Steinmetz

Director of Postgraduate Research, Faculty of Built Environment, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Christine Steinmetz is the Director of Postgraduate Research and a Senior Lecturer in the Bachelor of Planning Program at the Faculty of Built Environment, University of New South Wales (UNSW). Christine teaches qualitative research methods and supervises undergraduate honours, Master’s, and PhD students. Christine’s scholarly research interests include learning and teaching in higher education; university campus design and the social construction of place on university campuses, communication theory, and the use of progressive qualitative research methods in planning research. Her current and future research agenda includes planning and geographies of adult entertainment and commercial sex activities. This research has mainly focused on the planning and regulation around these contentious land uses, progressive and best models ‘in practice’ from a global perspective, and the sex economy as making a significant contribution to a night-time economy within the urban landscape.