The Espy Remains Closed Indefinitely, Following Storm Of Planning Objections

Beer taps at The Espy will likely remain dry this summer, contrary to initial claims from the hotel’s owners.

The iconic live music venue closed its doors back in May, unceremoniously cancelling weeks of scheduled gigs, with the goal of fast-tracking renovations to be able to re-open in time for summer 2015.

But now, it seems, St Kilda locals will be forced to find themselves a new watering hole over the warmer months, with the old girl’s doors to remain firmly shut.

News Corp reports that planning objections are the culprit, with Port Phillip Council receiving a storm of written protests in response to the venue’s proposed works.

Among the naysayers, 26 residents complained about a proposed 145 square metre rooftop terrace.

One such was a longtime resident named Viviane Burnett, who told the local paper she was concerned about potential increases in noise and drunken behaviour.

She reckons the Espy owners’ planning permit should include strict rules around the use of the rooftop terrace, including “a ban on loud music” and “an 11pm cut off”.

“At the moment we don’t hear anything because it is very well insulated,” she said. “But sound reverberates from higher storeys.”

“They want a 145 square metre terrace for 200 patrons. I think it needs some controls.”

Other renovation plans for the heritage-protected hotel include partial demolition and alterations to the building, fixed street-level canopies, plus the new deck and retractable terrace on the first floor.

As News Corp reports, the owners currently have a planning permit for the internal renovations only.

And, due to the numerous objections, they now face a lengthy wait for an external permit, with the matter not scheduled to go before council’s statutory planning committee until next month.

Espy regulars have been critical of the news on social media, questioning why the venue chose to shut its doors so suddenly – and cancel gigs – without having their house in order.

And despite the owners previously assuring fans that live music would be “central” to their renovation plans, fears remain for the future of Australia’s longest-running live music venue.

Fans have already expressed concern that the venue could be destined for a similar fate as Sydney’s iconic Annandale Hotel, which scaled back its live music commitments in favour of a bigger focus on food and beverage services, after similarly shutting down for renovations, back in 2013.

“The Annandale in Sydney also ‘closed for renos’. When they reopened it was the most ghastly polished-up gastro-pub…going from having bands play every night to only hosting sit-down trios playing semi-acoustic, 3 nights a week,” one fan posted to Facebook.

While others fear that the renos could be a ploy to help upscale and sell-off the venue, which has been on the market since February of last year.

However, the official planning proposal claims that “the overall operation and uses of The Esplanade Hotel will not be altered”.

Check out some pics of the planning proposal, courtesy of Espy Appreciation Society Facebook group member Jacqueline Walker, below.

Gallery: The Espy Planning Proposals

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