By Mark Marsden, VCAT Watch
The tavern at 25 Bank Place got its original permit from the tribunal in 2000.
A new permit to expand the use to include the basement was approved by the Council in 2005.
Currently a condition of permit allows 1.00am closing Friday and Saturday nights (ie Saturday and Sunday mornings). No more than 200 people are allowed in the tavern. Another condition of permit does not allow any new patrons to enter the premises two hours before closing.
The tavern operators applied to extend the closing time to 3.00am Friday and Saturday nights. The council refused the application, citing concerns with amenity impacts on nearby residential uses, non-compliance with policy and a failure to address the state planning decision guidelines on licensed premises.
The tribunal supported the council’s decision in Marrakech Trading Pty Ltd v Melbourne CC  VCAT 2154. It said that the council policy restricts the operation of such venues to 1.00am and saw no reason why this policy should not be upheld.
The tribunal’s main concern though was the noise generated from patrons leaving the premises. It considered that the 200 persons allowed in the premises was “not an insignificant number” and that “there is the potential for this number of patrons to be on the premises at closing time and to then exit in the subsequent 30 minutes into the otherwise generally quiet environment of Bank Place, adjacent to the neighbouring residential uses.”
The tribunal acknowledged that council’s policy also encouraged entertainment venues in the Melbourne CBD.
However, exercising policy is a balancing exercise and it said: “While it is true that residents should be aware of the existence of this and other venues and the associated nightlife, and should adjust their amenity expectations accordingly, these venues should also acknowledge their partly residential context.”
No doubt the tribunal’s decision in this matter will be a relief to local residents.