Just when you thought Darby Street couldn’t get any better... it did
A Newcastle icon, a culinary hotspot, a hub of culture and creativity, and a hang-out enjoyed by tourists and Novocastrians alike. Darby Street, so widely known and loved, has just been given a facelift with the addition of an extended outdoor decking space, bringing a brand new way to enjoy the area.
Running as a trial throughout the warmer months, some of Darby Street’s most popular restaurants have had their dining spaces extended, inviting customers to sit out on the street, and to lap up warm summer nights under the stars while absorbing the energy and hubbub of the area.
The project launched at the end of September, as part of the City of Newcastle’s Streets as Shared Spaces initiative, will run for a total of six months.
Reflecting the ever-changing nature of our local population’s lifestyles, the space offers diners a new way to interact with Darby St, particularly post-lockdown. The area is practical, green, welcoming and accessible, featuring improved cycling facilities and safer pedestrian access.
The benefit of the program is also being felt by local businesses, as the 120m2 temporary dining platform, made from recycled materials, extends from Sanctum to Goldbergs, allowing businesses to expand their outdoor seating areas—critically important after a challenging couple of years.
On our recent visit to Darby St we checked in with a couple of the businesses to get their thoughts on the new dining space.
"I love the new deck, it has helped bring people back to Darby street by adding a new cosmopolitan look whilst helping to clear the congestion on the footpaths," says Anthony, owner of Three Monkeys.
The Autumn Rooms owner Ben Richardson also couldn't be happier with the new addition saying,
"The feedback from our customers has been really positive. The increased space means that there is a much wider footpath making it more comfortable for shoppers to walk from one end of the street to the other. It has also given us much more flexibility with seating and also our ability to provide shade."
"On a good day outside is now the preferred spot to sit which is great to see. Some concerns were raised about parking, however after a few weeks of the new deck being in place, they have said it hasn't been an issue and they love the new space."
In addition to expanded dining, Darby Street’s rejuvenation features new street furniture, lighting, surfacing, and public art in the Headphones Courtyard, alongside a program of events that invite the Newcastle community to spend time in, and engage with, the dynamic space.
So far, Chalk the walk hosted a local artist competition and installed temporary artworks along the street and a Darby Street Street Party have attracted visitors to celebrate the area’s rejuvenation.
To maximise accessibility and pedestrian-safety in the zone, the speed limit on Darby Street has been reduced to 30km per hour.
Additionally, temporary drop off and pick up zones will be installed near Council Street and parking spaces at rear of Newcastle Library will be converted to 2P free spaces for the duration of the trial.
Once a centre of culture, art, music and food, Darby Street’s new outdoor dining space and facilities have reinvigorated the area, harnessing the buzz that is so key to its identity.
So rally a group of mates for a Sunday brunch in the sun, or enjoy a relaxed, family dinner on a warm evening; whether you’re a Newy-local, or a tourist seeking out the best of the city, head down to Darby Street’s vibrant, dynamic new space to enjoy a summer out and about!