Small bars laws meet no objection

Residents and businesses will be stripped of rights to object to liquor licences for small venues under legislation passed by the South Australian Parliament.

The Government is keen to make it easier for entrepreneurs to set up small city bars for up to 120 patrons.

It said small venues would help increase the vibrancy of the CBD and boost the use and atmosphere of laneways.

Ian Horne of the Hotels Association is pleased the laws have passed.

"We think they're an absolutely appropriate vehicle to enliven some of those little laneways," he said.

The Liquor and Gambling Commissioner will rule on applications.

But Planning Minister John Rau thinks city residents are unlikely to object to the opening of more small bars.

He said they would be confined to commercial or mixed-use areas, so were unlikely to have any residents near them.

"If an adjoining business or whatever decides that they have a concern they can tell the commissioner about that concern, in fact they'll be invited to," he said.

"If the commissioner thinks there's some validity to that concern, that will become a condition of the granting of the licence." Mr Rau said there were many exciting possibilities under the changes.

"It won't just be bars in the city that take up the option of a small venue licence, it could be restaurants, art galleries, live music venues and other new and interesting spaces in the city," he said.

"It will also mean more people coming to enjoy the city and the flow-on will help other city businesses.

It will also be a boon for hospitality industry jobs." Assurances Liberal leader Steven Marshall said the Opposition was happy to support the changes without amendment.

"We basically went through concerns that were raised in the wider community, we discussed those with the Government, the Government has made a series of assurances and we'll see how we go," he said.

"Other cities around Australia did this sort of a decade ago, South Australia's been well behind the eight-ball, so we're glad the Government has come to the party on this one and made sure that this legislation's gone through." Mr Marshall said his party was willing to consider expanding the laws to cover the suburbs and regional areas.

"We need to see how they operate at the moment, take a look at what are the implications, but we certainly would be open to it," he said.

Mr Horne said the CBD needed to be the focus for now, to determine the success of the changes.

A residents' group is worried there could be little or no consultation.

Julie Jordan from the South City West Residents Association said the Government recently introduced new zones and the City Council had plans to do the same.

"[With] residential zones, we now have a south-west policy area and a south-central policy area and a city living zone, what do each of those mean?" she said.

She said the Commissioner's process must include the chance for strong community input.

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