By Ian Stephenson, President and Planning Convenor, Bulletin 4/2023,  June 2023

In April the Society made a submission to Council on the application for renewal of outdoor dining at The Friend in Hand Hotel, 58 Cowper St, Glebe. 

Friend in Hand Hotel
No. 60 Cowper Street (right of image) is built right on the street and adjoins the Friend in Hand Hotel (Image: Ian Stephenson)

The Friend in Hand Hotel is the only non-residential use in this part of the St Phillips estate and is in close proximity to many houses. The key issue was whether, given its proximity to houses, footpath dining should cease at 8 pm rather than 10 pm. 

City of Sydney Outdoor Dining Guidelines March 2023 include the provision that where outdoor dining areas are close to homes, care needs to be taken to ensure residents can continue to enjoy the amenity of their neighbourhood. In considering operating hours for outdoor dining, the City will assess: – how close an outdoor dining area is to nearby dwellings and other noise sensitive uses. The City may approve alternative hours of operation to allow outdoor dining that will not have an adverse noise impact.

The owner of number 60 Cowper St. has lived in his house for 20 years. The house is very close to the roadway dining area of the Friend in Hand. The Society feels, in this situation, there should be compromise and outdoor dining should cease at 8 pm, not 10 pm. After all, the neighbour could hardly have anticipated when he bought his house 20 years ago that the Council would permit the hotel to take over part of the roadway. This seems a clear case where Council’s guidelines for alternative hours should have applied.

Council didn’t see it that way. Their Delegated Report merely noted that the proposed hours of operation are between 10.00am to 10.00pm, Monday to Saturday and 12.00 noon to 10.00pm, Sunday, which is consistent with the approved operating hours of the premises. 

View from 60 Cowper St
The street dining area seen from the living room window of number 60 Cowper Street (Image: Ian Stephenson)

The Sydney Morning Herald of 25 May reported on the issue under the headline Neighbours outraged by noise from street dining. The article covered the pros and cons. A Glebe resident in favour was reported as saying the loss of a couple of car spaces is nothing compared to the ambience the provision of outdoor dining brings to an area. People who want reduced hours can be presented as being party-poopers but there’s an  Australian tradition called the ‘fair go’ and if your sitting room is as close to the outdoor dining area as that at number 60 Cowper Street’s, then an 8 pm curfew seems fair and reasonable – fair to the pub and fair to the resident.