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Wanting it both ways

A RECENT liquor licensing court decision highlights the paradox inherent in the drive towards inner-city living.

A paradox because while people are attracted to the mixed-use lifestyle offered by inner-city living, the same people often object to the realities of their changed circumstances.

The principal issue involved is noise and proximity to commercial businesses.

A case heard before the liquor licensing court earlier this year highlighted the conflict between the two.

A Subiaco-based tavern, Bailey at Centro, licence application was denied by the Liquor Licensing Court earlier this year because it was believed the noise levels from the yet-to-be-developed tavern would exceed environmental protection standards and affect neighbours.

Phillips Fox chairman of partners Dan Mossenson represented the applicant, Resolve Nominees, and said that his client was following planning guidelines of the Subiaco Redevelopment Authority.

“My client won the right to develop the tavern. She wanted a one-storey tavern but part of the requirements by the Subiaco Redevelopment Authority was that it was to be at least a two-storey building with alfresco areas,” he said.

“My client was intending to operate the ground floor as a tavern and use the upstairs section as a function room.

“The City of Subiaco was consulted early on and agreed to the tavern. My client made the liquor licence application using the SRA requirements. Licensees objected and the City of Subiaco objected and some residents also.”

Mr Mossenson said that while the City of Subiaco had been an initial supporter of the tavern, it decided to oppose the development to protect residents. But he believed the residents closest to the development were supportive of the tavern proposal. 

“I believe the owners of the apartments next to the proposed site [Proximity Apartments] bought there because they liked the idea of having a tavern there, they wanted that lifestyle,” Mr Mossenson said. 

The nearest residential objectors were located 150 and 350 metres from the site. Proximity Apartments are located 20 metres from the site.

While licensees in the area were strong opponents of the new licence the judge disagreed with their assertion that there was no demand for the proposed development.

The perceived demand for the premises was essentially turned against the applicant by the City of Subiaco, which submitted to the judge that noise would exceed acceptable levels.

The City of Subiaco provided the results of noise tests taken from outside other venues in the area to determine that decibel levels from the proposed tavern would exceed current requirements.

It stated that residents of the Proximity Apartments would have noise levels 15dB above the 48dB requirements after 10pm on a Friday evening and that noise levels would be up to 8dB over the acceptable level in residential units opposite the tavern’s west terrace.

Mr Mossenson said his client was not required to submit a noise abatement plan to the SRA or the City of Subiaco until prior to its operation.

A town planner was called in by the tavern licence applicant to provide evidence that the tavern was part of a wider plan for Subiaco’s redevelopment and that it would provide the qualities residents were seeking when purchasing property in the area.

“The provision of mixed-use development therefore provides a choice of lifestyle and environment to people. It is not intended that the residential component of mixed use developments will have the same qualities as residential development in suburbia,” the town planner said.

“Indeed, it is particularly intended that it not have a suburban environment. It is this aspect of mixed use that attracts people who find suburbia boring.

“For this reason it seems to me somewhat incongruous for people who do have a clear choice about where they live to choose the obviously different lifestyle of a mixed-use development, and then want to modify it to satisfy some alternative view about what their residential environment should be like.

“It is a fact that most of the residential apartments in mixed-use developments, not just Subi Centro, are expensive. For this reason the people who acquire them do have a real choice about their residential environment.”

For the tavern developers it has been an expensive exercise that is believed to have cost up to $100,000.

Mr Mossenson said because the liquor licensing judge did not deny the application based on the absence of demand for a new tavern, his client could reapply.

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