Tick for open-air tavern

Melbourne councillors have dismissed 25 resident objections to a planning permit for an essentially open-air tavern being constructed in a car park behind Nova Apartments in White Hart Lane.

Following the Future Melbourne Committee meeting of July 5, applicant Stephen Johnson now has permission to build a two-storey bar and servery out of shipping containers, with the addition of some polycarbonate sheeting to protect patrons from the weather.

Mr Johnson will cater for 200 patrons and will operate until 1am, seven days a week.

Nova Apartment residents at 225 Elizabeth fear excessive noise from the site but council planning officers supported the application saying the use was consistent with relevant planning policy to:  “provide for the intensification of retail and other complementary commercial, community and entertainment uses within the established retail core”.

The council planners also say Nova is too far away to be considered affected by noise.

“Whilst objections have been received from residents of these apartments, the building does not immediately adjoin the subject site but is located approximately 27 metres to the south along White Hart Lane. Therefore, with reference to the policy above, it is not considered appropriate to define the surrounding area as ‘noise sensitive’,” the delegate’s report says.

A condition of the permit is that patrons leave the area via a small walkway connecting with Lonsdale St after 11pm.

Speaking at the committee meeting, Mr Johnson said: “If there are residents here, I’m the owner of the business and I assure you we will do the right thing.”

“I’m here this evening to say from my heart that we are completely committed and totally intend to operate this venue in a really good way,” he said. “It’s not a rock and roll grungy venue.  It’s about creating a place where people can come and meet, gather and take in the great space.”

He said White Hart Lane was currently a “dark, lost world”.

“There’s a lot of unsavory things that take place in the laneway at the moment.  There’s people defecating, there’s drug taking, there’s all sorts of dark behaviour and the plan is to bring the space to life,” he said.

“We’re all about trying to create a mini-green zone in the middle of Melbourne.  There will be music, there will be life in the area.”
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle acknowledged the disconnect between residential amenity and nightlife.

“This is a tension that we come across a lot.  How do we protect existing uses in a city that is changing? And the ‘agent of change’ mechanism is the way we deal with it,” he said.

“It’s a two-way street and the onus is on the newcomer.  Whether you’re a resident or a venue, if you’re the newcomer, you have to demonstrate that you’re not going to impact on the existing uses that have preceded you.”

“The applicant has met all requirements and we are going to get a wonderful addition to the life of the city.”

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