Newtown, Newtown!

This is a matter of strictly local interest.

Last October the venerable (in gay-licensed-premises years, which are a bit like dog or cat years) Newtown Hotel closed abruptly. Negotiations for a new lease had broken down and the landlord shut the tenant out.

I’ve been round for long enough to guess that behind this was the perennial tussle between owner and tenant for the value of the tenant’s business, so far as that has come to adhere to the premises. For example, some years ago, the proprietor of Campos Coffee in Newtown found himself out of his premises (then roughly opposite St George’s Hall) and the landlord setting up his own coffee shop in them. Ironically, in forcing the tenant to move the landlord did Campos Coffee a favour. Now under new proprietors, it has flourished up in North Newtown. But that is a story for another day, if ever.

More recently, we’ve been hearing that negotiations are afoot and that the Newtown Hotel may re-open soon. It says something about the absolute slackness, in news terms, of the gay media, that one important element of this story only came to my attention by my perusal of the NSW Supreme Court unreported judgments. There, somewhat delayed (the decision was given ex tempore on 9 May) is the judgment of Brereton J in McHugh Holdings Pty Ltd v Newtown Colonial Hotel Pty Ltd [2008] NSWSC 542.

The decision was a pretty comprehensive victory for the tenant (McHugh). First, the landlord (under the lease, that is) was restrained from applying to the Licensing Court to have the licence transferred to it, because the lease basically provided that the licence was the tenant’s. Secondly, a clause which would have stopped the tenant from setting up its business somewhere nearby if it didn’t stay at the present premises was struck down as being wholly in restraint of trade.

So maybe the ground is now clear for a negotiated settlement and for the doors to re-open.

Or maybe not: latest news (I learnt of it on 20/6) is that the hotel owner is making its own application for a licence, that is, to supplant the existing licence. So, at the very least, if McHugh has established that it doesn’t need to go back into the Newtown, the Newtown is now in the process of attempting to establish that it doesn’t need to do a deal with McHugh to come back in. Apparently they’ve been canvassing nearby restauranteurs (who have all felt the pinch) for support in their “Impact Statement.”

One Response to “Newtown, Newtown!”

  1. Club Troppo » Missing Link Daily Says:

    […] than 2 glasses is even better. [↩] while Marcellous rejoices in the possible resurgence of his favourite gay pub in Sydney’s Newtown.33. KP: which should have the side benefit of giving Tim Freedman an […]

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