Bid for 3am licence denied

By David Schout

A rooftop bar in the CBD’s east end has had its bid to operate until 3am denied for a second time after the state’s liquor regulator deemed it would “detract from or be detrimental to the amenity of the area”.

In the wake of the ruling, one local said the decision should set a precedent for what CBD residents expected.

Owners at Loop Rooftop on Meyers Place had appealed a 2019 decision by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) that denied it the ability to extend its current license from 1am to 3am. 

The premises operates as both a project space downstairs, which opened in 2003, and a rooftop bar upstairs which began operating in 2013.

The owners argued that the extra income generated from the upstairs bar would subsidise the loss made by the project space, which is billed as a “creative hub at the heart of Melbourne’s music and arts community.”

They believed a trading hours extension would better fund initiatives for artists, filmmakers and writers and according to the hearing document, argued the application represented “an economic and social benefit” for the local economy on the back of additional supply contracts, rostered staff and tourist expenditure.

But after hearing evidence from four objectors, each either a resident or landlord at 25 Windsor Place situated approximately 30 metres east of the bar, the commission decided to reject the application.

The commission was not satisfied that noise from patrons leaving the bar at 3am would not cause disturbance to locals, nor that the bar had an adequate strategy to control the noise. 

It also noted evidence that noise complaints had not always been adequately addressed or resolved by the owners in past years.

Residents 3000 president Rafael Camillo, one of the four objectors, said he believed the right decision had been made.

“I think it’s a balanced and fair decision and sets the perfect precedent for what the residents in the CBD expect,” he said.

“No one’s against business, no one’s against rooftop bars, but what residents want is balance.”

In response, Loop co-founder and director Adam Bunny said he accepted the decision, and noted that balancing the needs of venues and residents was a delicate topic.

“A disappointing result for us,” he said.

“But amenity is a complex issue, particularly in the heart of the CBD. It is important both venues and residents’ interests are considered. VCGLR heard both sides of the argument and we accept the umpire’s decision.”

Loop is currently closed due to the state government’s stage 4 COVID-19 restrictions.

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