The City of Melbourne is cutting red tape, fast-tracking permits and thinking differently to bring the buzz back to the CBD – by turning the city inside out.
Inside Out will bring indoor trading, dining and entertainment outdoors and into the streets of Melbourne, leveraging the city’s iconic laneways and eclectic, thriving nightlife.
The unique initiative is designed to capitalise on the Victorian Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, which will allow retail and hospitality businesses to trade outdoors when the State achieves a double-dose vaccination rate of 70 per cent – currently forecast for late October.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said Council is doing everything in its power to ensure traders can welcome back as many customers as possible, as soon as possible, in line with the Chief Health Officer directions.
“Our small businesses have been the hardest hit in the whole of Australia. We are determined to make trading easier for them while we navigate this unique set of circumstances,” the Lord Mayor said.
“This will be an exciting first for Melbourne. Imagine a bustling market with clothing racks and trestle tables on the street, along with food stalls and buskers that will help bring the vibrancy back to our beautiful city, safely,” she said.
Inside Out could see the closure of selected laneways on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights to allow hospitality businesses to trade into the evening, and to safely welcome more patrons.
Retail trading hours could also be extended, ensuring customers can shop into the night as the warmer weather approaches.
Conversations are also underway for buskers to be employed to entertain the crowds.
In addition to the 200 outdoor trading permits already granted, the City of Melbourne will look to fast-track new applications from business owners who are interested in participating in the Inside Out initiative.
The Lord Mayor said now is the time to cut through red tape to get the city humming.
“There is a real sense of urgency around this initiative. Every day that businesses can’t operate is another day of income lost,” the Lord Mayor said.
“We will be extending the moratorium on paying permit fees, approving more outdoor permits, and we are looking at lower cost options for outdoor dining infrastructure.”
City Activation portfolio lead, Councillor Roshena Campbell, said city businesses had been calling for support to allow them to trade given the restrictions imposed by the State Government’s roadmap.
“In delivering Inside Out we will be cutting the red tape and fees so businesses can get back on their feet again. We know how critical it is for them to reopen as soon as possible after over 230 days in lockdown and we want to get those cash registers ringing again across the city,” Cr Campbell said.
The Lord Mayor said a number of other initiatives were also underway to attract people back into the CBD.
“We’re breathing new life into vacant shopfronts, continuing our popular Flash Forward laneway creative art program, and we’re also working with the State Government to bring back the highly successful Melbourne Money dining scheme,” the Lord Mayor said.
“We saw just how popular Melbourne Money was, and the value it provided to hospitality businesses, so we want to do it again.”
Inside Out is scheduled to commence from late October.