Northern Beaches Council development: Restaurant's plans 'not appropriate' for Freshwater

NOT HERE: Frank Minnici and Adam Reeves are among the residents objecting to plans for a new restaurant in Freshwater. Picture: Geoff Jones
NOT HERE: Frank Minnici and Adam Reeves are among the residents objecting to plans for a new restaurant in Freshwater. Picture: Geoff Jones

PLANS for a Mexican restaurant with courtyard seating alongside residences next door, should be rejected by council some Freshwater residents say.

A development application for 20 Albert Street in Freshwater has been lodged by the owners of Alma restaurant in Avalon. Thanks to Alma's popularity, its owners Tim Christensen and Jack Leary are looking to expand.

Plans show the restaurant will be located in the village's old Bendigo Bank site, with proposed hours of 11.30am until midnight, seven days a week.

It will seat 86 people - 58 inside and a further 28 outdoors, that is if council approves the conversion of two parking spaces, between the old bank and the new IGA, to create a timber deck and courtyard.

While new no car parking spaces are included in the DA, a traffic report - conducted in July when the northern beaches was in lockdown - "estimated that 21 to 22 parking spaces on-street and in off-street car parks within two to three minutes' walk would be available" during peak busy periods on Friday evening.

Alma Freshwater #5 acoustics Picture Pulse White Noice Acoustics

Alma Freshwater #5 acoustics Picture Pulse White Noice Acoustics

Even though Alma would be just two doors up from an existing Mexican restaurant, Freshie Mex, a consultant's report in the DA said the development would have a range of positive outcomes, including the employment of 28 staff.

"The proposed development enhances the amenity and quality of life of the local community, by providing for a development that caters for the employment, entertainment and cultural needs of nearby residents and visitors to Freshwater village," it said.

Adam Reeves owns a unit next door to the proposed courtyard and he said noise and smells from the restaurant would impact residents in the entire block.

"We can literally hear voices from the Stowaway [Bar] and that's 100 metres away [across the road]," he said. "Where the outdoor seating is [for the proposed restaurant], is the wall to our bedroom.

"It's only a single story [unit] block and if they put in exhaust on their roof all the smells would go over our balconies. I'm not one to cut a business dow, but it's just not appropriate."

While Mr Reeves did live in the unit for a while, he now rents it out, and he fears the DA's approval could result in a decline in the value of the property.

Freshwater business owner Frank Minnici agreed there would be noise pollution for residents living next door and said the loss of the two parking spaces would result in no delivery/loading dock for the restaurant.

"The Traffic Report, which was produced in July, 2021, in the middle of the pandemic, indicates that there is plenty of available parking at night, and particularly refers to the Freshwater Village complex car parking areas," he said.

Council's Environmental Health Referral Response report has recommended the DA be refused citing concerns with: noise; smoke and odour; sanitary facilities; and food premises design.

Submissions remain open until September 23.

Alma was contacted for this story but declined to comment.

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