Shellharbour Workers Club’s bid to transform Clifton’s long closed Imperial Hotel into a large cafe and restaurant should be allowed to go ahead, Wollongong City Council planners say.
In a recommendation to the city’s Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel next week, staff said the revamp should be given conditional approval despite not complying with some of the council’s development standards.
Late last year, the Shellharbour club lodged a modification request for a development application approved in 2010, when WIN Corporation owned the hotel.
The plan, which would mean the 133-year-old pub would have to give up its hotel licence, split the community, with many welcoming the makeover of the dilapidated building.
But in objections lodged with the council, residents said the new balconies would result in “inappropriate noise and overlooking impacts on neighbours”.
They also raised concerns about the excessive height of the renovation at the back of the hotel, which will be 12.3 metres and above the allowable limit of nine metres.
Traffic and parking was also a major concern, with residents saying Clifton would not cope with “excessive parking problems”.
“The parking fiasco will see someone killed,” a resident said.
Another argued “times have changed and the pub has no right to exist in its current location as a hotel in a quiet residential village”.
“To try and use its precedent of a hotel into its present situation is to treat us all as simpletons,” they said.
Despite these worries, the council said the historic site – which has been a pub since 1884 – was allowed to be used as a hotel, motel, pub, restaurant or cafe.
Planners said the above issues could be dealt with via conditions of consent, or had been adequately addressed in the club’s plans.
For instance, the decks will be closed at 10pm on Friday and Saturday, and 9pm on other days, they said.
Regarding the height, the club argued the old hotel will still be in keeping with the scale and character of the area and will not result in any adverse overshadowing of privacy issues.
Council staff agreed that the height exception was required to allow for the installation of a rear deck and lift.
“It is considered that the proposed modification application has been designed appropriately given the nature and characteristics of the site and is unlikely to result in significant adverse impacts on the character or amenity of the surrounding area,” the recommendation says.
IHAP will meet at Wollongong council on Wednesday evening to consider the council’s recommendation.