Pre Meeting outside Council Chambers

Last Thursday (1st Sep) the Hoppers team found themselves back at council seeking approval for their DA (Development Application). Councilors the previous month voted against their planning departments recommendation not to accept our application, to “Approve in Principle” our DA. Council requested that the planning department produce a set of conditions to relating to our DA so they could, this month vote, on the application’s approval.

We were asked to look at reducing the size of our drinking/dining space despite the fact that our intended liquor license limited us to a maximum of 120 people at any one time. Although never preferable, in an effort to be flexible we brought the bar forward, rejigged the still and reduced the size of downstairs drinking/dining area as well as agreeing to limiting the upstairs mezzanine to the balcony area being the only space for food/drink.

With these changes in place and a resubmitted set of drawings in with council we were confident of a positive outcome and waited for the report to become available a week before the council meeting. Unfortunately, our thoughts didn’t align with the planning departments as once again they recommended our application be refused stating the design in its current form looked too restaurant focused.

One look at our Instagram or Facebook account would have proved any doubters wrong. I mean how many pictures are there of us brewing? Are there any of us with chef hats on? Nonetheless we quickly regrouped and set to the task of lobbying our position emailing and calling councilors and the planning department in an effort to alleviate any concerns of the true intent of the brewery (it’s all in the name folks).

“There is no failure except in no longer trying.”
Elbert Hubbard

Ian Kennedy looking to see if we could return to chambers

On the day of the council meeting we rocked up to council having done a lot of groundwork and registering to speak. Emotionally taxing is the only word to describe that week thinking back on it now. Our dream was on the line and somewhat in the hands of others. As with last month at council we were the only ones speaking and the only people in the public gallery. Hopper Ian Kennedy spoke passionately about who we are, what our intent is and how the application process to date had been anything but enjoyable. He then went through the planning departments proposed conditions of consent addressing the ones we believed to not be necessary asking that they be removed. Additionally, we were also of the understanding that the congestion charge was incorrectly calculated and put an alternative view forward.

Council then took a short recess before readjourning to vote on our application. An alternative motion was immediately put forward but as council was going through it there were a few areas which were a little too grey. Mayor Chris Cherry stopped the meeting, asked us (the public) to leave and closed the doors to the chambers to further discuss the application. A very long 30 minutes later we were allowed back in.

Mayor Chris Cherry then addressed the room stating that she was left with no doubt that the restaurant was in fact ancillary to the brewery and put an alternative motion forward withdrawing many of the unnecessary conditions including a reworking calculation of the traffic congestion charge. Council then voted on the alternative motion and once again councilors voted Seven Nil in favour of the application. Our Development Application (DA) was approved! We did it!

Celebration beverage. We did it!

It was one of the most surreal moments of my life walking out of the council chambers. It was somewhat unbelievable and hard to fathom that the next part of our journey had finally begun. You talk about milestone moments in the evolution of any business. This was one and as I looked at the other Hoppers present I saw a change. Exhaustion was replaced with relief and once relief had had run its course a renewed energy came over all of us.

To be finally able to move forward with the building of the brewery – our long established dream. For it to be allowable or “legit” as my 13 year-old daughter would say was a profound moment in that time and place.

So, watch this space. It’s different now. It’s even more real.
It’s legit man.
And we love it.

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