Expansion plans for Ballarat bar sparks public safety concerns

JD's Sports Bar plans to expand to the property next door, increasing its capacity to 500.
JD's Sports Bar plans to expand to the property next door, increasing its capacity to 500.

BALLARAT watering hole JD'S Sports Bar plans to almost double in size by leasing an adjoining property on Lydiard Street North.

Owner Lawrence Faustini said the nightspot, which will expand into the building previously used by Wakefield Real Estate, will increase capacity from 330 patrons to 500.

Amid growing concerns surrounding alcohol-related violence in Ballarat's entertainment precinct, Mr Faustini said the plan underwent extensive consultations with and endorsements from Victoria Police.

Mr Faustini said methods were in place to ensure intoxicated people would not pour out of the premises and interact with other members of the public.

"We release patrons gradually at about 1:30am, so having more people won't make too much of a difference," he said.

Discussions with police centred around lighting, improved CCTV cameras, access to taxis and public transport, he said.

The bar, which is a member of the Ballarat Liquor Accord, has not applied to extend it's current 4am weekend liquor license.

If the plans are approved by Ballarat City Council, JD's will neighbour the Gravyspot - a late night takeaway shop - and a rifle store.

"We're not expecting any objections," said Mr Faustini, who added the deadline for objections was July 28.

The expansion will provide a new bar and seating area. 

City of Ballarat community safety committee chairman councillor Des Hudson said public safety was the main concern with the proposal.

"We understand Lydiard Street is a popular night time precinct where they are looking to expand, but what we will need to look at is level of safety for patrons and people in the area," he said.

Cr Hudson said expanding the premises would not necessarily increase the number of revellers coming into the precinct, suggesting it could "disperse them more".

Cr Hudson urged the bar to continue it's role with the liquor accord, which includes a 2.30am lockout and no shots served after 1am.

"If owners and operators are serving alcohol responsibly and doing their best to ensure there aren't intoxicated persons leaving their venue, safety will improve," he said.

Victoria Police was unavailable for comment.


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