Old warehouses, office blocks, storefronts, and everywhere in between could soon be a potential live music venue if a radical new proposal developed by the former Leichhardt Council and the Sydney Fringe Festival is adopted by the Inner West Council.

The proposal would allow any non-residential building to be used as a live music space, without the need for any development applications. This is part of former Leichhardt Council mayor Darcy Byrne’s long-held plan to turn Parramatta Road into an artistic hub.

“The obscene cost of property in the Inner West has been destroying the habitat artists depend on for years,” Byrne explains in a press release.

“Without a dramatic increase in the spaces available for rehearsal and performance our once famous music and arts scene will become extinct.

“Eliminating the need for any red tape or a development application in order for a gig or an exhibition to take place is a radical idea but it may be the last and best hope of keeping places for emerging artists in our gentrifying capital cities.

“At the moment a bookshop proprietor, warehouse owner or café manager who wants to allow a performance on their premises is forced to spend thousands of dollars on a development application for an approval they may only ever use once.”

Sydney Fringe Festival Director Kerri Glasscock produced the report, and explains that it is mostly common sense.

“A vibrant global city needs a diverse and vibrant cultural offering”, she says. “The recommendations in this report cut red tape and provide local artists access to building stock previously unavailable, providing them the best chance to grow sustainable and viable creative businesses.

“This is a major step forward for Sydney and the local artistic community, turning the traditional funding model on its head, paving the way for the private sector, cultural sector and local government to work collaboratively to regenerate the area and safeguard developing areas of the city for cultural use.”

“Without brave reform such as this our City faces little chance of maintaining its incredible community of creatives, but with it we can revitalise our city with interesting, diverse and vibrant streetscapes for years to come.”

Check out the Off Broadway Report’s top four recommendations, below, or read the report in full here.


1. Make small scale live performance complying development in the Inner West Council area in all premises excluding residential, removing the need for development approval. Advocate for the policy to be adopted state wide, as is now the case in South Australia.

2. Allow the inclusion of small bars and low risk arts and cultural facilities with live performance in light industrial zones in Parramatta Road, as already allowed in the Sydney live music precinct.

3. Council should secure a long term lease hold on an adjoining group of properties in the Off Broadway Precinct on Parramatta Road and sublet them to arts, performance and cultural organisations and businesses as well as providing space for Vivid Sydney, Sydney Mardi Gras and Sydney Fringe Festival to expand into the Inner West.

4. Appoint a dedicated planning with Council to collaborate with and advocate for live performance and arts venues seeking development approval.