Update 5 February 2009: the story did not run in the 28 January 2009 issue of the Leader. I’ll update this again when it is published.
Update 27 January 2009: I gave an interview to a Leader journalist yesterday about this story, and the article should appear in this week’s Melbourne Leader. According to the journalist the Police have visited the bar to investigate the original complaint.
Update 17 December 2008: I wrote to Consumer Affairs Victoria on 18 November 2008 about the licensing issue with Mirrors. I got no response so I resent the message on 23 November, and received a response on 24 November that the issue was being referred to the Police for investigation. Today I received an acknowledgement from the Police that they have the file.
Update 4 December 2008: I have received further information from the council. Mirrors was issued with a penalty notice for failing to comply with the Yarra Planning Scheme for buildings and works. Their fence did not requiring a building permit owing to its height, but did require a planning permit. The owner of Mirrors has been made aware by the council that planning approval is required before the rear area can be used to serve food and drink. The council believes that the application would be for lunchtime and early evening trade. The council also says that the rear yard is accessible to patrons until early evening for smoking only and is ensuring that no food or drink is carried into the area.
Update 11 November 2008: The Yarra council has confirmed that it has issued a fine to the owner(s) of the Mirrors bar for their illegal building building work. Since the photo below was taken the ground has been concreted over, but the council considers this to be landscaping, which does not require a permit.
Update 6 November 2008: a check with Consumer Affairs Victoria’s liquor licensing section confirms that Mirrors does not have permission to serve alcohol or have people consume alcohol at the back of the premises, and they have not applied for such a licence. They would need to post an application and give all residents 28 days notice to appeal such a move, and nothing has been done.
Original post: the owners and residents of flats behind the Mirrors lounge bar at 388 Brunswick St Fitzroy are very concerned about construction work currently being carried out at the rear of the premises (photo taken on Wednesday 29 October 2008). It appears that the venue is building a beer garden at the rear of the block. According to my enquiries and those of other neighbours, Mirrors does not have a building permit or authorisation for these works.
They have tables set up out the back and two weeks ago on a Saturday night they had about 12-15 people drinking there and causing a lot of noise until the management was phoned around 2am. Then at 7.30am on Saturday 25 October 2008 there was large machinery and work being carried out at the premises, blocking an accessible laneway and making unacceptably loud noise. The police were notified of this.
At no stage has anyone notified nearby residents of an application to alter this building or its liquor license. The back of this venue is positioned on a laneway opposite the bedroom windows of nearby flats. The residents of the flats understand they live in an entertainment precinct and can tolerate reasonable noise from the street and established venues, but vehemently object to this new and apparently unauthorised development.
The matter has been drawn to the attention of the City of Yarra Council and formal written complaints have been made. We have been told that Greg Farrell is investigating this matter. A search of Yarra’s online planning database reveals that the most current planning application for this address is PL03/1176, which was made on 13/11/2003 by Peter Nodzio for 386-388 Brunswick St Fitzroy VIC 3065. The planning application states “Change of Use for the purpose of a tavern (including a wavier of car parking) with the provision for an external food court to the rear.” Determination was made on 22/07/2005 and the application was withdrawn.
The concerned residents believe that not only is the building work unauthorised, but that the venue may be breaching the terms of its current liquor license by serving customers outside the building in what is essentially the back yard of the property. Without an approved alteration to its liquor license, it would not be able to legally serve alcohol there.
Fitzroyalty will continue to investigate and report on this issue. If you have information to contribute, please submit a comment or contact the Council.