Bayswater council tighens town planning scheme to remove liquor licence ‘loopholes’

Stock image.
Stock image.

BAYSWATER Council “tightened up” its town planning scheme this week so a “loophole” approval such as the looming Dan Murphy’s Maylands outlet could not happen again.

In March, the Supreme Court overturned the WA Liquor Commission’s liquor licence refusal for the State Administrative Tribunal-approved Woolworths application at Peninsula Tavern.

Discussed as urgent business, the council modified the definitions of liquor stores to further control where packaged alcohol could be sold in the city.

Cr Dan Bull said that two years ago, the council moved a similar amendment to Town Planning Scheme 24 in an attempt to regulate large liquor stores setting up shop in residential areas.

“In theory, you would have thought the prevention of a large liquor store in residential areas would mean a large company like Woolworths would be prevented from receiving planning approval,” he said.

“Unfortunately that didn’t occur and Woolworths sought to utilise a loophole in the town planning scheme by hanging their hat on the definition of ‘tavern licence’.”

Mayor Barry McKenna said it was important to “tighten up (the) town planning scheme” urgently.

“We thought we had all bases covered – this council did not want Woolworths to put a Dan Murphy’s in essentially a residential area,” he said.

“We lost on this one through a technicality, a word.

“We would look foolish if we let this happen again.”

Cr McKenna said he was not “not trying to push prohibition” and supported large liquor outlets in appropriately zoned areas.

A City officer recommended the definition of liquor store not include club, wholesale or producer licences, but Cr Bull removed these words as he concerned it would be an “opportunity for organisations like Woolworths to exploit another potential loophole”.

Deputy Mayor Stephanie Coates said she was concerned about the impact of the wording change to small club licences.

Crs Coates, John Rifici, Brent Fleeton and Michelle Sutherland voted against the motion.

Meanwhile, Maylands MLA Lisa Baker has written to the WA Liquor Commission to urge the chairman to ensure that original members were not on the reconvened panel and did not take part in the panel selection process.

She said it was important previous panel members did not sit on any reconvened panel.

Ms Baker said she understood the South Australian and Victorian equivalent bodies had procedures to detect and deal with perceived conflicts of interest.

The WA Liquor Commission and Woolworths’ Australian Leisure Hospitality Group declined to comment.