Sunset tavern suffers new hit

“We would just like to know from the council: what would be an acceptable use of the space?”

A cry to the ether, Sunset Events took to social media first thing Thursday morning to vent the frustration of having a second attempt to get a tavern, micro-brewery and live music venue approved at Arthur Head rejected by Fremantle council.

“We had big plans for J Shed … maybe they were a little too big!” the event promoters posted on their Facebook page.

“Our first proposal after winning the expression of interest and signing the lease was rejected by council, as many of you know.

“Then we went back to the drawing board.

“We listened to community feedback, we halved our capacity and we reluctantly scrapped the concerts.

“So naturally, we are really disappointed that our revised plans have not been approved. We love this incredibly unique part of Freo and want to share it with the broader Freo community.”

The post mirrored the sentiment Sunset director Dave Chitty took to Fremantle council’s planning committee on Wednesday evening. Although the WA Planning Commission has final say on whether to approve the tavern, Mr Chitty’s aware that it strongly backed the council’s position last time round.

The promoter told councillors it was unfair to accept Sunset’s original expression of interest, which outlined his plans to build a tavern, only to scuttle the idea.

Ironically the J-Shed artists, who reiterated their opposition to the tavern at the planning meeting, say they’ve some sympathy with Mr Chitty’s position;

Photographer Peter Zuvela told the Herald he says the impasse has resulted in four years of stress and lost work and they look like having to gear up for a third round.

“I think, best they can do is just pack up and leave Arthur Head reserve. After four years of stuff-ups, enough is enough,” Mr Zuvela said.

Although the planning committee ultimately voted against the proposal, mayor Brad Pettitt flagged trying to get the decision delayed at full council so a compromise could be worked out before a submission was sent to the WAPC.

Veteran councillor Jon Strachan said that appeared impossible, as the WAPC had been clear that anything approved at Arthur Head needed to be “low impact”.

It’s not been a good week for Sunset, with the Perth Magistrates Court clearing the way for creditors to pursue the directors over a $1.3 million debt.

In a decision that will send shockwaves through the entertainment industry, the magistrate decided the creditors would be able to pursue a range of Sunset-controlled companies for the money, not simply the one set up for the Southbound Festival which ran up the debts.

This business model has increasingly been used by promoters over the last few years, as it has the effect of spreading the risk. However, small contractors say it’s unfair that they’re taking on the risk but don’t get the rewards if a festival is a sell-out. They claim it’s resulted in some small companies going to the wall.

Writs are expected to be issued to Sunset directors James Legge, Andrew Chernov and Mr Chitty by Christmas and the creditors will get their day in court next year.

by STEVE GRANT

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