Beer garden set to close

NO COMPROMISE: The Deck has been ordered to shut down its beer garden. Picture: Rebecca Hosking 201620_04.

By Natalee Kerr

A historic Geelong pub is set to shut down its beer garden despite spending thousands to “compromise” with council, according to its owner.

The Deck last week accepted council’s enforcement order to close the outdoor area following noise complaints from a neighbouring apartment complex.

But owner George Zurcas told the Indy he suggested multiple alternatives to “solve” the noise issues, with council refusing them days before a Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) hearing last week.

“We’ve tried to be fair in all avenues,” Mr Zurcas said.

“(But) they’re not willing to work with us, we try to compromise and get hammered every way.”

Mr Zurcas said he spent more than $80,000 across two years on plans to install an acoustic roof to limit noise.

“About 10 days before the VCAT hearing my town planner rings me up and says ‘council changed their mind and want the beer garden shut’,” he said.

“I’ve got no idea why they suddenly refused it.”

Mr Zurcas also offered to spend money on double glazing the apartment’s windows to make the complex “completely sound proof” two weeks prior to the VCAT meeting, he said.

“I said if it fits within our budget we would pay for it, or at least pay some of it.

“But the residents refused our offer, they wouldn’t even consider prices.”

Mr Zurcas said the beer garden’s closure would “devastate” his business.

“It wouldn’t be viable. It’s disappointing because we have a 22-year lease remaining, we planned on being in Geelong for quite a long time,” he said.

The outdoor area was in place two decades before the apartment building, according to Mr Zurcas.

But council argued the beer garden was operating without planning approval, and that the music and patron noise was in breach of its permit.

City Hall’s planning director Gareth Smith said council received noise complaints regarding the venue since 2017.

“We have attempted to facilitate a suitable outcome for all parties,” he said.

“This has included several Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal adjournments, compulsory conferences and a new permit application.”

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