Aussies furious as council removes screens in pub: 'Here come the fun police'

The proposal for the screens has been slammed as "unacceptable".

A pub in Tasmania is facing a red card over its television screens in an outdoor area after a heritage officer for the City of Hobart said they didn’t fit in with the “character and heritage value” of the area.

Pavilion at Salamanca was pulled up last year for installing two flat screens at either end of an alfresco area without getting council permission first. Co-owner Blair Brownless admits: “that was a mistake on our behalf” and quickly moved forward with an application in November, but the pub has since received some pushback from authorities who say the screens are “unacceptable”.

Blair, however, doesn’t see an issue. “Having live sport is what we're about — that's what we’ve built our business on — and we don’t think the screens are obtrusive at all,” he told Yahoo News Australia. “You can't even notice the TVs unless you're inside the venue. If you've parked the car there or if you're in the business next door, you actually can’t see the TVs anyway.”

The outside of Pavilion at Salamanca (left) and the TV screen (right).
The TV screens can be seen in the outdoor area of the Pavilion at Salamanca. Source: City of Hobart Planning Committee agenda

Locals also didn’t have a problem, according to Blair. “When the 30 day notice went up, there were no objections from anyone,” he said. “It's just the Heritage Officer saying it's not in keeping with the historic nature of Salamanca.”

Council’s complaints

Located in the historical district of Salamanca Place, the three storey former warehouse must abide by the Sullivans Cove Planning Scheme. According to Heritage Officer Nick Booth, the sports bar’s outdoor TV screens — which fall under the definition of "signs" — are in breach of this code.

“The signs proposed to the outdoor dining space fail to meet clauses ... because it amounts to the erection of signs on a structure adjacent to places of cultural significance that would, by virtue of their design, detract from the character and heritage value of the adjacent buildings individually and collectively,” he wrote in response to Blair’s application.

As part of his recommendation, he deemed the proposal “unacceptable”.

The TV screen in the outdoor area of the Pavilion at Salamanca.
'We don’t think the screens are obtrusive at all,' said Blair Brownless, the co-owner of the Pavilion at Salamanca. Source: City of Hobart Planning Committee agenda

Sports bar without sports

“Of course,” Blair said, “we’re mindful of the heritage nature of Salamanca. We're an old building, we don't have any signage structure or anything, so we understand that.”

“But Salamanca is also an entertainment precinct. It’s full of bars and restaurants and that's what brings Salamanca to life. It’s the bars and restaurants and being a vibrant part of the city and we're trying to enhance that aspect.”

While he still has nine TV screens inside the bar, he said the loss of two screens outside will be “detrimental to our business”.

“There's no doubt because we are a sports bar so we're a point of difference from all the other bars and restaurants on the Salamanca strip,” he explained.

Aussies slam ‘fun police’ response

Local residents have since hit back at the recommendation, branding the City of Hobart as “out of touch”.

“The fun police are out again!” one person wrote on Facebook. “It’s about time the Heritage Fuddy Duddies packed up their bags and buggered off,” said another. “They need to get a life and focus on important issues,” added someone else. “No wonder Tassie gets bagged at times for being behind the times,” another commented. “It’s not our fault. It’s the powers that be.”

Councillors will vote on the proposal at a planning meeting on Wednesday night.

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