In May 2015 Endeavour Drinks Group (EDG) lodged a development consent with Randwick City Council to develop the ground floor area of the former Randwick Rugby Club premises on Brook Street in Coogee, into a Dan Murphy’s store.

Since then both sides have been locked in a development dispute, which has seen the New South Wales Land & Environment Court recently uphold Woolworths appeal and allow the development to go ahead.

In giving her reasons for the decision, Senior Commissioner of the Land & Environment Court, Susan Dixon, listed several findings including those related to the social impact of the new store.

Both sides put forward experts to give social planning evidence, with Professor Roberta Ryan speaking on behalf of EDG, and Dr Alison Ziller for the Council.

Commissioner Dixon wrote: “Professor Ryan is of the expert opinion that the proposed development is not likely to give rise to an increase in alcohol related violence. Professor Ryan has also considered the public submissions made by the residents of the unit complex above the premises which support for the proposal. She notes these positive social impacts of the development. Put simply these local residents are pleased that there will be no parties or noise impact from the use as liquor would not be permitted to be consumed on the premises and the proposal relates to take away liquor and not a nightclub or on premises licence.

“Dr Ziller takes the opposite view. She is of the opinion that the approval of the store at this site would be inconsistent with prohibited use of alcohol in the immediate area. She is concerned that the supply of liquor will facilitate pre-fuelling and secondary supply in the Alcohol Free Zone (AFZs) and Alcohol Prohibited Zones (APZs) or in areas nearby. However, in expressing these views she concedes that AFZs and APZ are only effective if they are enforced and that they are not effective in themselves. In this case she accepts that the police have raised no complaint about the application for the Dan Murphy in this location.”

She added: “On balance I prefer Professor Ryan’s social impact evidence to that of Dr Ziller in this case. I have formed that view because I think Professor Ryan’s assessment is more objective and balanced. She factored into her assessment of the social impact of the development the particular circumstances of this case including the support for the development expressed by the local police and the residents in the complex above the proposed development.

“Her frank assessment of the inconclusiveness of academic literature in respect of the correlation between the consumption of alcohol and related violence was balanced. Put simply, there is no evidence in the social impact literature that says that the size of the liquor store has a consequence socially. Rather, the number of shops does. There is no conclusive correlation between domestic violence as a consequence of the consumption of alcohol, or any satisfactory evidence before me to distinguish between alcohol consumed at or on premises or a packaged liquor venue.”

In her conclusion, Commissioner Dixon said: “For the reasons stated I find that there is no satisfactory reason on the evidence to refuse this application on the grounds of traffic, social impact or town planning. With respect to the objectors’ concerns and the public interest more generally I am satisfied that these matters have been appropriately addressed by the expert evidence and the proposed conditions of consent.”

The ruling was welcomed by EDG, with the General Manager Corporate Services, Shane Tremble saying that the next step for the group will be to close the nearby BWS store and then move that licence to the Dan Murphy’s location.

“If our licence transfer application is successful, the new Dan Murphy’s store will replace the large BWS store that has been trading around the corner on Coogee Bay Rd for over 40 years. Our current BWS store has long been part of the Coogee community and has an unblemished record of responsible service,” Tremble told TheShout.

“We have worked closely with traffic management consultants, and with dedicated discreet off-street car parking and careful management of delivery hours, will ensure that there are no negative impacts on the amenity of the area.

“The proposed Dan Murphy’s store will not trade past 9pm and replaces a licensed club that had an occupancy loading of 430 people and regularly traded until midnight and later on certain occasions.

“Similar to recent developments in Mosman and Rosebery, this will be a mixed retail/residential development and already enjoys support from residents above. Most Dan Murphy’s stores are located in close proximity to residential areas and it is our hope the new Coogee store will be likewise warmly embraced by locals and visitors as bringing improved amenity to the area.

“We will be consulting widely with the local community as part of the licence application process and will address any further concerns that are raised during this process.”

The residents’ association in the building above the proposed store has also welcomed the news, with the association’s head, Marilyn Brewer saying: “Dan Murphy’s has a good reputation and are a far more preferred tenant than the former club.

“They will improve building security and help manage traffic, and with the closure of the nearby BWS store will not increase the number of liquor licences in the area.

“Their retail tenancy has sensible trading hours and will eliminate the possibility that the space will ever be used as a late-night trading club in which alcohol is served and consumed on the premise.” 

Randwick City Council’s Mayor, Lindsay Shurey told TheShout: “It’s disappointing that the Land and Environment Court have gone against the wishes of locals as well as the evidence of Council’s experts and upheld an appeal that will potentially see a Dan Murphy’s in Coogee.

“With three other liquor stores in the vicinity, this new addition will add nothing to the area but traffic congestion, anti-social behaviour and litter. It’s not in keeping with the residential nature of the street and many locals have actively voiced their discontent with this proposal.”

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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