Coogee Bay Hotel has been given the provisional green light to undergo a major redevelopment that’s been in the works since 2019.

Last week, the Sydney Eastern City Planning Panel gave approval for a major overhaul of the Coogee Bay Hotel site – with a capital investment value of $94m – pending a noise masterplan.

Coogee Bay Hotel’s owners, C.inc, have been looking to completely overhaul the site since 2019, and have undertaken many professional consultations and local community and business consultations over the years, which has seen the plans evolve.

The Panel granted a Deferred Commencement Consent. The Development Consent will become operational once there has been resolution of a noise management plan with Randwick City Council.

In their determination the Panel considered the major changes made by the applicant to their original development application lodged in July 2021. These included an improvement of bulk and scale, a reduction in height, removal of the proposed supermarket and improvement of urban form and amenity.

C.Inc managing director Chris Cheung told Australian Hotelier he was very pleased with the outcome.

“I’m really happy. It’s been a long consultative process and being here for over 33 years, we’re part of the community and we have always taken that approach that we’re part of the solution.”

The approval includes the demolition of buildings, works to the Coogee Bay Hotel including refurbishment to provide for 18 hotel rooms, a new three storey building to the southern side of the beer garden with 13 new hotel rooms (resulting in a total of 31 hotel rooms), construction of five/six storey shop-top housing comprising 58 dwellings, 11 retail premises, an internal laneway from Coogee Bay Road for an Eat Street precinct, basement parking for 158 cars, subdivision, landscaping and associated works.

Cheung says he has always thought of this major reworking of the site as a 20-year masterplan to reinvigorate and future-proof Coogee.

The Coogee Bay Hotel redevelopment will include an internal laneway, known as Eat Street with multiple dining outlets.

“When the plans were approved for the Coogee precinct way back in 1986 by the local government, I think by buying a hotel you could play an important role to bring that precinct to life. And as I keep saying Coogee Bay Hotel was such a major player in reinvigorating Coogee. But since the 90s until now, nothing has really moved. And I do believe this masterplan will take Coogee to another level, but more importantly, helps meet the needs of the local community.”

Within the masterplan, the actual licensed area will form a U-shape encompassing the beer garden around the Eat Street precinct and other areas within the development, but will also almost halve in terms of gross floor area (GFA). Cheung says the pub will remain at the heart of the project, with this just being the next evolution of the hotel in its long history.

“The pub still remains. The pub has been here for over 150 years. And I think it’s played such an integral part of the local community, and will continue to do so.”

“You know, I think what’s been aired in the last couple years is just a lot of the negativity or the opposition to the development. But time will judge me. And I’m very confident it’s a well considered, balanced development that we’re doing here, in the heart of the Coogee Bay Hotel, which has been in operation for 150 years and will still continue, but in a new chapter.”

Defending the closure of Selina’s

One point of contention that is garnering attention outside of the Coogee community, but more broadly in the Sydney community, is the closure of the Selina’s live music space within the new development plans. Selina’s has been a premier live music venue since the 1970s, hosting everyone from The Sex Pistols and INXS to The Rubens and Hockey Dad.

The new plans have drawn criticism for the removal of the Selina’s space, but Cheung has defended the move.

“To me, it’s three things. Supply and demand, time, and legislation. I was very fortunate to be part of the tail end of the golden era of Australian music, in the 80s and 90s. I was part of Selina’s in the 90s. And I really got to appreciate what that meant to be in the industry, post-Olympics.

“Selina’s was a pre-Olympics legend, the third-largest music venue in Sydney, only behind Sydney Entertainment Centre, now gone, and Hordern Pavilion.  Post-Olympics we don’t even get rated in the top 10. And now with legislation, it’s made it very difficult to operate live music.

“But the significant thing with today’s development is just moving with the times and needs, and supply and demand. I think the demand is low. Supply is high. In terms of time, people have different needs. Different occasions and activities generate the crowds now. And I think legislation just makes it a bit difficult to continue.”

While Selina’s will not be part of the redevelopment, Cheung reinforces that live music will still remain a part of the new Coogee Bay Hotel offer.

“Coogee Bay Hotel promotes and is an entertainment precinct. It is not just contained to Selina’s. Selina’s is a large live music venue, and we’re going to continue promoting live music, but it’s a smaller format rather than the large format of yesteryear.”

Improvements for the community

The C.Inc team is now focused on meeting the conditions for the deferred approval, so that they can get going on the project, but Cheung says it’s still a while off. Until those conditions are met, there’s no timeline as to when the project will get under way and what a construction project would look like.

But Cheung is excited to progress the project, as he thinks it will help reinvigorate the local area.

“For us at Coogee Bay Hotel, we’ve done an amazing amount of research and gap analysis and looking at what the community is going to be. This is not just about today’s need, but future-proofing for what it will likely be in 20 years.

“We’re just really happy to be finally moving forward. But more importantly, we’re excited to deliver a renewed Coogee Bay Hotel, and to reinvigorate the precinct for the betterment of the community at large.”

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1 Comment

  1. Congratulations, Chris! This is fantastic news for Coogee and the broader community. The redevelopment of the Coogee Bay Hotel is a significant milestone that promises to rejuvenate the area, creating a vibrant hub for locals and visitors alike. Your dedication and vision over the years, coupled with extensive consultations, have truly paid off. The new Eat Street precinct and the enhanced hotel facilities will undoubtedly enrich the comm
    unity’s social and economic fabric. Here’s to seeing this exciting project come to life and transform Coogee for the better. Well done, Chris, on bringing this vision to fruition!

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