Two Labor MPs have called on the New South Wales government to step in and save Sydney venue Selina’s from its planned demolition, launching a new campaign to rescue the historic venue.
In August, it was revealed that the venue, housed within Coogee Bay Hotel, was set to be demolished pending council approval, in order to make way for a $111million development.
At the time, hotel owner Christopher Cheung commented that Selina’s “doesn’t have a place in the new development”. He added that “times have changed” and blamed alcohol harm minimisation legislation, saying “it just didn’t allow for large venues so everything got smaller”.
Now, in a joint statement, Shadow Minister for Music and Night Time Economy John Graham and Coogee MP Marjorie O’Neill have called on the State Government to designate Coogee Bay Hotel as a “special entertainment precinct”, which would grant the venue regulatory support that could keep it trading.
“Special Entertainment Precincts… give venues special dispensations like extended trading hours and more favourable noise management conditions,” the statement reads.
“Should the Coogee Bay Hotel be declared a Special Entertainment Precinct it would be provided with the regulatory support for entertainment and live music necessary to save Selina’s.”
In his statement, Graham pointed out that “the framework now exists for governments to establish entertainment precincts”, calling on the government to “get on with the work of refreshing their planning controls to foster live music and cultural activity”.
Graham’s office has also launched a campaign to save the venue, with a petition calling on NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet to designate Selina’s a special entertainment precinct.
For decades, Selina’s has been one of Sydney’s best live music venues. But Sydney’s fun police have pushed them too far, and they may have to shut the doors on live music.
— John Graham (@JohnGrahamALP) November 3, 2021
In her statement, O’Neill noted that Selina’s had “played a huge part in the history of the Eastern Suburbs and our musical legacy”.
O’Neill went on to voice concern that the disappearance of Selina’s would mean “the new generation of creatives have limited local stages to perform or get their big breaks”. She added that she has moved a Notice of Motion in NSW Parliament to “ensure the sustainability of the venue”.
Legislation permitting the designation of special entertainment precincts was passed in late 2020. Part of the policy ensures that noise complaints regarding designated precincts are to be handled by the council, with locals no longer able to complain through Liquor and Gaming NSW, the Land and Environment Court or licensing police.
Earlier this year, it was reported that the Inner West Council in Sydney would consider a proposal for Enmore Road, including the Enmore Theatre, to be designated the first special entertainment precinct in NSW. The council unanimously voted in favour of the proposal.
“In Sydney, the cliche of a person moving in next door to a long-standing pub and complaining about noise has been a reality for many years,” Inner West mayor Darcy Byrne said at the time.
“Worse still, many operators go broke because noise complaints are prosecuted by more than half a dozen government agencies. This tacit fun police force has been strangling the live music sector.”