New bars cop new rules

NO EXISTING Chapel Street bars will be forced to change their opening hours despite tighter licensing rules announced to curb late-night chaos.

Laws designed to curb anti-social behaviour on the popular nightclub strip force new bars to close at 1am, and limit occupancy to 200.

The rules also cap the number of new bars to 50.

But the rules don’t apply to the 60 existing venues that are ‘‘most likely’’ to be associated with ‘‘alcohol-related harms’’ highlighted in the 2010 report Late Night Liquor Licence Trading, even if their license changes hands. All of these venues operate after midnight.

There are about 133 on-premises licences operating along Chapel Street, according to the report.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy announced the new rules last week, which affect venues from Toorak Road, South Yarra to Dandenong Road, Windsor.

Councillor Tim Smith said the new laws had ‘‘frozen the number of large nightclubs’’.

Revolver nightclub, which opens until 7am on weekends, will continue to do so despite the new laws.

Revolver spokeswoman Lucie Ribush said they would continue to work with the Stonnington Liquor Accord and other authorities to manage licensing matters.

Cr Smith said the laws ‘‘will fundamentally change the type of venues that are opened in Chapel Street’’.

He said that the number of existing large nightclubs would decrease naturally over time if the majority of venues were forced to close at 1am.

‘‘This is a long-term fix,’’ he said.

Mayor John Chandler said the new planning controls would not affect an existing planning permit for a licensed hotel, tavern or nightclub.


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