A good practice guide published by the ODPM this week argues that the future direction of evening activities should be controlled through planning rather than licensing regulations.
Since the 1990s, restaurants, pubs, discos and late-night shopping have formed a major part of city centre regeneration, the report notes. But it warns that problems associated with large numbers of young people going out, including drunkenness, antisocial behaviour and crime, can deter other social groups from using city centres.
The report advises local authorities to proactively use the planning system to clamp down on such problems while creating vibrant urban city centres. Partnerships and management schemes could help to broaden and diversify evening activities in city centres to reduce the impact of binge drinking, it suggests.
The guide encourages a multi-agency approach to tackle issues such as late-night transport, waste management, environmental improvements, crime and disorder and conflicts between residents and revellers.
Passenger transport authorities could play a greater role in providing services, it argues, citing the good quality of night buses on offer in London and Manchester.
Local authorities should urgently develop waste and cleaning strategies while making sure that extra funding is in place, the report warns.
Author Marion Roberts said: "This report shows how issues such as transport, street cleaning and overcrowding pose challenges for councils and points towards imaginative solutions."
Good Practice in Managing the Evening and Late Night Economy can be viewed via www.PlanningResource.co.uk.