Bondi View

Courthouse lands in court

Fighting Waverley Council in the Land and Environment Court: Bondi Courthouse Bar and Grill. Photo: Kira Spucys-Tahar

Residents say they are “at their wits’ end” with the Bondi Courthouse Bar and Grill, and claim it is breaching liqour licence conditions even as Waverley Council continues with proceedings against it in the Land and Environment Court. But the beachside bar’s owner claims he is the target of a campaign intended to drive him out of the area.

The Courthouse occupies a ground level position on Campbell Parade set back from the footpath, on a site adjoining residential buildings on Lamrock and Jacques avenues. The site, previously known as the Bondi Beach Bar, was left vacant for two years before the lease was acquired by Mr Wadih Sghabi.

The conditions of the liquor license and council development application include a limit on the number of patrons and restrictions on the sale of alcohol after 11.30pm. There is currently a ban on the use of amplified entertainment until an acoustic assessment is undertaken and implemented. The enclosed courtyard style structure with atrium roof on the site also requires all louvres to be fixed shut.

Residents claim Mr Sghabi and his staff are defying the conditions of consent by playing amplified music well after the midnight closing time, allowing the louvres to be kept open, spruiking the business, and allowing unruly behaviour of patrons leaving the premises.

“I’m reasonable. It’s Bondi – people want to go out,” one local resident told the Bondi View. “But they need to comply with the rules and meet the conditions.”

The resident said she had made police complaints and written emails to council but is frustrated by the lack of progress.

“I can’t sleep,” she said. “And it’s affecting residents across several buildings.”

Another resident, who also wished to remain anonymous, complained about “drunk and loud patrons spilling onto the footpath” and said people were discouraged by the slow process of dealing with their complaints.

Minutes from the March 2013 Waverley Development Control Committee meeting, which approved the most recent development application for the venue, said “the premises has been subject to prolonged residential complaint over many years”. The report confirmed that since the new operator had commenced his business at the end of 2012 there had been more than 20 complaints to council.

A spokesperson for the Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing said the organisation had not issued any fines to Bondi Courthouse over the past 12 months and had received one official complaint about the venue since February 1, 2013. Local police would not comment on how many times they have been called out to attend the venue.

Mr Sghabi, the owner, said he was being targeted because he does not cater to the ‘elite’ local crowd and that other local bars were the problem.

“There are [lots of other venues] that make a lot more noise than I do,” he said.

“This is a successful venue catering to a low budget crowd. It’s a nice place where young and old can come to eat and drink without paying ridiculous Bondi prices,” Mr Sghabi said.

“They want this place to be elite so they are trying to force us out.”

Mr Sghabi also claimed he had been intimidated by local police on Valentine’s Day after more than a dozen police “raided” his premises with sniffer dogs, taking photos and videos of patrons.

“They cleared the place out,” he said.

“They want to close us down.”

Waverley Council has taken the Bondi Courthouse to the Land and Environment Court over failure to comply with development conditions. A spokesperson said council is unable to comment as the issue is currently before the courts.

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