Iconic North Melbourne pub fails to sell, but new tenant could be on the horizon
North Melbourne’s historic Court House Hotel, which hit the market earlier this year, has not been sold with a new tenant possibly in the owners’ sights.
The Errol St pub, which dates to the 19th century, was listed for sale in January after having become a casualty of the COVID pandemic.
But according to real estate firm JLL, the local landmark watering hole has not been sold, with the owners now believed to be in negotiations with signing up a new tenant – raising the possibility that the venue’s charming bar and restaurant area could again be in operation.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) is reviewing a recent application by the pub that seeks an “endorsed person” variation to its current liquor licence.
However, endorsement applications do not involve any changes to the licence conditions such as operating hours, area, patron capacity or nature of activities.
The Department of Justice and Community Safety said while it could not comment on individual businesses, “endorsement applications are lodged for an additional person or entity to be endorsed on the licence, allowing the endorsed person/s to continue the business under the same licence or permit”.
“An endorsement application most commonly occurs when an existing licensee departs or is legally evicted from the premises; the licensee becomes an externally administered body corporate; [or] the licensee dies or becomes a represented person,” it said.
But the application has drawn a mixed reaction from the community with one local member concerned the pub’s possible reopening could see a return of anti-social behaviour in the streets.
“We strongly object to this application due to the existing high density of housing and the resultant issues when operating with a liquor licence in the immediate area of this establishment,” one wrote in their submission.
“When the previous tenant was operating with a liquor licence (even with limited opening hours) there was an increase of persons loitering which has resulted in increased noise, rubbish (smashed bottles) and urination in the adjacent streets and laneways.”
The community member also cited concerns that the council had not addressed the “ongoing problem” of adequate security and lighting in Lancashire Lane, which is located behind the pub. However, another said they would endorse the application as “it would be great to see the Court House Hotel reopen as it is in a mixed-use zone”.
“Management of this venue should consider existing residents and how to address concerns regarding noise, security, rubbish, etc. However, this should not be a deterrent as it is an opportunity to activate this area and improve the facilities/amenities in North Melbourne,” they said.
The resident said it would be reasonable for the venue to serve alcohol while also providing food during ordinary trading hours.
While the pub has been shut, improvised theatre company Impro Melbourne had earlier this year been using the dining area to host performances every Friday and Saturday night with the main bar serving drinks.
The building has stood as one of North Melbourne’s most recognisable pubs with the North Melbourne Library holding one of the few historic images of the pub from 1870.
The owners of the pub could not be reached for comment. •