Clifton’s pub with no beer


An artist impression of the redeveloped former Imperial Hotel at Clifton.

Club back-flips on public bar commitment

A SOCIAL media campaign is underway to persuade the owners of Clifton’s historic former pub to reconsider what they say is a back-flip on a commitment to re-establish a public bar in its redevelopment plans.

The owner, Shellharbour Workers Club has lodged a modification request for a development application with Wollongong City Council, approved in 2010, when WIN Corporation owned the former Imperial Hotel.

Instead of setting an area aside as a public bar, the adjusted plans would include a significant amount of internal and external design alterations. This will mean historical features of the pub would need to be removed.

The new plans include a cafe where the public bar once traded, and restaurant to the rear on the ground floor. A restaurant will be added on the first floor, allowing up to 290 seated patrons. The venture would employ about 16 staff during peak holiday season.

There would also be extra landscaping, extended opening hours to allow the cafe to cater to breakfast trade, and the ground floor deck will be expanded and enclosed to create a new first floor space to take advantage of the ocean views. The Club also wants a variation to the site’s nine-metre height limit.

The west facing balcony will also be reinstated and a number of heritage features restored.

The car park will be increased by 11 to 35 spaces, with additional spaces for two motorbikes and seven bicycles.

Plans are also underway for the Imperial to have an “on-premises” liquor licence, which would allow alcohol to be served with food.

Shellharbour Workers CEO Debbie Cosmos said the club is focused on restoring the unique building and acknowledging the historical significance of the property.

Mrs Cosmos said she was excited about the potential of the design following extensive community consultation and engagement.

“The design development stage of this project has been extensive and we’re definitely excited about the opportunities this project presents for the local community and for the broader Illawarra economy“, Mrs Cosmos said.

“We shared the design with local residents earlier this year to ensure that the community was aware of our plans and we received an overwhelmingly positive response. Everyone is excited to see the building come to life again.

“Although it may not be the hotel we all remember from the past, it will provide an amazing meeting place for the community to come together to share a meal and a drink,” she said.


The Imperial Hotel in the 1990s

Mrs Cosmos said the club has considered opening hours, noise and parking within the DA and is committed to work with Wollongong Council in the future to optimise these issues including alternative transport options aside from parking on site.

The club has engaged Welsh and Major Architects to work on the project based on their experience with other historical properties.

“It’s our aim to restore this building to its original glory, to retain the heritage features while ensuring that the environmental features of the site remain protected throughout the process,” Mrs Cosmos said.

Having purchased the property in March 2015 and pending council approval, it is expected that building works will commence in 2017.

The change in plans have not impressed some local residents. A Save Clifton Hotel Facebook Page has been established with heated debate underway whether Shellharbour Workers Club have “sold out” and abandoned a commitment to “look after” local residents with a dedicated community space. The plan is on exhibition for public comment through the council’s website until December 7.


A northerly aspect of the proposed Imperial.

About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,078 other followers


%d bloggers like this: