Trialed changes along Newcastle’s Darby Street are on track to become permanent if the results at the halfway point of the six month test are anything to go by.
In a bid to make the precinct more pedestrian friendly and offer additional alfresco space to local cafes and restaurants, outdoor dining areas along the footpath have been temporarily expanded. Parking and road conditions were also altered to favour foot traffic under the NSW Gpvernment’s Streets as Shared Spaces program.
According to EFTPOS data sourced from Spendmapp for Newcastle Council business boomed on Darby Street between October and December 2022, the strip achieving its highest ever trading revenue levels over the first half of the six month trial.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said sales revenue was up 17% over that period compared to the previous three months (July to September). This was 5.2% higher than the average sales revenue growth experienced anywhere else in Newcastle during the same period.
“Even accounting for the normal December trading spike, Darby Street has fared well during this period, with sales levels also up 9.2% compared to the same period last year,” Cr Nelmes said.
Pedestrian and cyclist traffic in the area has also reportedly increased by 18% and 13% respectively.
As the trial enters the final stretch businesses have just wrapped up two days of consultation with Council. Co-Owner of Three Monkeys cafe, Anthony Strachan said the trial has been a positive step towards bringing people back into the precinct.
“For us the dining deck has been a fantastic success, it’s one of the first places people want to sit when they come in,” Mr Strachan said.
“I think the trial has been great to bring in more tourists and create a more pedestrian friendly space. I would however like to see some of this work continued along the rest of the street, to create a longer-term beautification of the precinct.”
He is not alone, Council’s online survey has been filled out by 280 people so far with 67% saying they would be in favour of making the changes permanent.
The outcomes of the Darby Street trial, including community consultation results and data analysis, will be presented to councillors, for the potential retention of infrastructure.
Community engagement is open until February 28 via Council’s website.