05/12/2007 - 22:00

Developing bar culture

05/12/2007 - 22:00

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The architect of Melbourne’s liquor licensing laws, John Nieuwenhuysen, is not a big fan of the City of Subiaco’s restrictions on small bars.

Developing bar culture

The architect of Melbourne’s liquor licensing laws, John Nieuwenhuysen, is not a big fan of the City of Subiaco’s restrictions on small bars.

“That is awful, really awful,” Professor Nieuwenhuysen told WA Business News, after learning that the city would not issue planning approval for small bar licenses within a 100-metre radius of the Hay Street and Rokeby Road intersection.

The city feels it already has more than enough venues in the area, the Subiaco Hotel, Club Red Sea and the Llama Bar among them.

The City of Subiaco’s liquor licensing policy, which has been endorsed by the council, also states it will not approve small bar licenses where there are more than two other licensed premises within 100 metres that cater for more than 40 people. It also bans the consumption of alcohol in alfresco areas of small bar venues.

A spokeswoman for the City of Subiaco said its policy allowed for a diverse range of drinking venues but took into account “the existing situation in Subiaco.

“The policy seeks to avoid concentration of such activities so that licensed premises in the city are compatible with and contribute to an integrated, vital and positive community,” she said.

Professor Nieuwenhuysen, whose 1986 report on Victoria’s liquor licensing regime formed the basis of a massive overhaul of the state’s laws, said developing a strong bar culture needed the support of local governments and liquor licensing authorities, as well as hospitality operators.

“It is about giving business the freedom to experiment under reasonable planning laws and it depends on the goodwill of the council and liberalised liquor laws,” he said.

There has been a proliferation of liquor licenses in Melbourne – from about 3,000 to 17,000 – in the space of 20 years.

But Professor Nieuwenhuysen said alcohol consumption per capita had not increased.

He said most alcohol-related problems occurring in Melbourne actually stemmed from larger venues and nightclubs catering to more than 1,000 people.

A month after Western Australia’s new liquor laws were introduced, the City of Perth amended its policies to promote small bars and cafes wanting to serve patrons wine without also serving a meal.

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