By Andrew Starke
In a month that has seen the Sydney pub sector squeezed by restrictive licensing freezes and named-and-shamed by ‘most violent’ lists, comes the news that Scruffy Murphy’s Hotel has been granted permission to expand.
The controversial pub in Goulburn Street has been allowed to expand into the Eros Theatre adult entertainment premises next door, although it will not be permitted to raise its current maximum patron capacity of 550.
Sydney Council approved the extension of the pub despite seven formal objections by locals and initial concerns expressed by NSW police.
Scruffy Murphy’s owner, Malcolm McGuinness, first submitted the expansion request in January and amended plans were received by the council in July.
He was not available for comment today (Sep 11) but was previously pessimistic about the council approving the development application.
Last week he told Sydney City News: “I don’t think it’ll make it anyway, but we’ll see.”
Some modifications were requested by the council and police before the approval was granted.
Police asked that a ‘day club’ basement level be disallowed and that patron numbers be frozen at current levels.
Sydney Council approved 24-hour trading on the ground floor on a 12-month trial basis and asked that drinks not be allowed on a new outdoor terrace facing Goulburn Street.
The council’s development assessment sub-committee found that: “Given that the application is not for the operation of a new late night opening premises, but rather for a new element within an existing late night opening premises, it is considered that the proposed development will not increase the existing impact of the pub.”
Police had tried to shut down Scruffy Murphy’s in 2007 following a spate of alcohol-related violence.
However McGuinness has repeatedly contended that his pub does not belong on the ‘most violent’ list.
The latest BOSCAR figures have Scruffy Murphy’s just inside the top hundred at 97 with 11 assaults over the year to June 2009.
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