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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Madeline Link

'Foreshore's not just for a select few': harbour residents lose battle

Residents Barry Taylor, Marjorie Marsh, George Wollstenholme and Peter Stubbs have objected to the Huntington bar plan. Picture by Marina Neil


RESIDENTS of luxury waterfront apartment building Huntington have lost their battle against a new bar and restaurant build downstairs, in a decision one councillor predicts will cause a 'friction point' for years to come.

The majority of City of Newcastle councillors voted in favour of the Honeysuckle proposal, despite 38 submissions against the plans.

Independent Cr John Church was one of two councillors to reject the DA, arguing the residents came first.

"The residents when they first saw the DA approval of this property by DOMA, it specifically excluded hospitality as a conditional consent and what we're doing is turning that original DA on its head and doing the exact opposite," he said.

"People leaving a licensed premises after midnight after they've had a full gut of beer or grog or whatever, are going to be noisy, and for us to be sitting here suggesting we can just rely on self regulation and a plan of management is an absolute joke.

"It will require the residents to call up and complain and what we will do by approving this DA is create a friction point for a building and the adjacent buildings for years to come."

The bar, which will be located on the ground floor, will be allowed to stay open until midnight on Friday and Saturday, 11pm from Monday to Thursday and 10pm on Sundays.

At Tuesday night's meeting, councillors pointed out the proponent, Damian O'Reilly, had made changes to the original proposal in response to concerns from residents - dropping the overall capacity from 530 patrons to 475 and the outdoor area from 355 to 300.

Labor Cr Carol Duncan made the case that the harbour foreshore is for everybody to enjoy, not just a select few.

"While I do appreciate so much the comments of residents about having worked for a lifetime to be able to live there, I think we need to remind ourselves that the centre of our city and our harbour foreshore is not a dormitory suburb," she said.

"It is an area that all Novocastrians should be able to enjoy, no matter where they live, and our visitors to this city as well."

In submissions, residents raised particular concerns about noise levels, anti-social behaviour and safety - but on Tuesday night councillors remained confident an acoustic report, which will be reviewed after two months of operation, combined with a plan of management would mitigate those issues.

Greens Cr John Mackenzie said it came down to a "complicated trade-off" between the city's night-time economy and the rights of the residents to enjoy where they live.

"On the one hand, this council has definitely shown a preference for supporting the night-time economy and making sure that we benefit from all the positive things that brings, particularly hospitality jobs for casual workers and others, but also activating our tourist economy and making sure we do have that vibrancy in economic activity in the CBD," he said.

"I guess in that trade off is where we try to make sure we use the conditions of consent and venue management plans to get the best possible balance between those two often competing sets of values."

The development application was approved, with both Cr Church and Cr Katrina Wark voting against the proposal.


Newcastle council staff have recommended approval for a new bar and restaurant opening to midnight under the luxury Huntington apartment building on the Honeysuckle waterfront.

Councillors will decide on the proposal at a development applications committee meeting on Tuesday night after residents raised concerns about noise and anti-social behaviour.

A staff report on the proposal says the ground-floor bar should be allowed to stay open until midnight on Fridays and Saturday, 11pm Monday to Thursday and 10pm on Sundays.

The bar has a capacity of 475 patrons, including 300 outdoors in a covered area facing the harbour.

The proposal attracted 38 objections when it went on public exhibition early this year and was the subject of a public voice session at the council in October.

Proponent Damian O'Reilly said at that meeting that it was "naive" for residents to buy apartments in the CBD and expect nearby businesses to shut at 10pm.

He nonetheless modified aspects of the proposal after the public voice session, including trimming the bar's closing time from midnight to 11pm Monday to Thursday and reducing its outdoor seating from 355 to 300.

The objectors have raised concerns the proposed operating hours are inconsistent with a plan of management prepared by developer DOMA in January 2020 which stated the "retail and restaurant component of the development will operate between 7am and 11.30pm" and "all outdoor seating activities must cease at 10.30pm".

A previous council report said this plan of management had been provided to apartment owners when they bought into Huntington.

The site of the proposed bar and apartments above. Picture by Marina Neil

But the report to Tuesday night's meeting says the plan of management is a "supporting document for the overall management of the building and is not considered a POM for the purposes of this assessment".

"The POM document referenced by the objectors was not approved or incorporated into the development consent ... and cannot be jurisdictionally enforced," it says.

The report says a revised acoustic report prepared for the bar operator in August is "acceptable" and that the proponent plans noise mitigation measures such as double-glazed windows, closing vent louvres and installing acoustic baffles.

It rejects concerns the bar will create significant adverse impacts by way of noise, anti-social behaviour or safety.

"There are existing licensed premises within the Honeysuckle precinct that are afforded operating hours until 12 midnight through development consent," it says.

"The use of the outdoor dining area after 10pm has been assessed and is considered unlikely to create adverse impact upon the locality."

The report also says the bar is "consistent with City of Newcastle's strategic intent for the night-time economy" and is "in a location desired by CN in contributing to the growth of the night time economy, and with reasonable intended hours of operation".

A previous council report to the October public voice session said there were "no known outdoor spaces associated with a licensed premises within the Honeysuckle precinct with a development consent allowing for use of outdoor space after 10pm of a similar size".

Mr Stubbs told the October meeting that residents understood a licensed venue would occupy the space but expected "sympathetic trading", such as only opening until midnight indoors.

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