Paddington residents protest against plans to sell Four in Hand Hotel as residence

A story from New South Wales

Paddington locals are fighting back against plans to turn the Four in Hand Hotel into a house.

Paddington locals have been campaigning to save the Four in Hand Hotel since it was put on the market in April.

The venue, described on its own website as “Sydney’s favorite pub”, was owned for a decade by celebrity chef Colin Fassnidge, before being sold in 2015 to Public House Management Group.

With a $6m price tag, the owners of the corner pub plan to transfer the venue’s pokie and liquor license elsewhere and have the site zoned as R2, allowing for low-density residential use.

However, these plans may be foiled. The Woollahra Council has since put the pub forward for heritage listing, following resident’s pleas to save the pub from redevelopment as a private residence.

The Council voted unanimously for a motion put forward by Residents First councilors Harriet Price and Luise Elsing that council undertakes an assessment of heritage significance for the Four in Hand Hotel, and for it to be listed as a local heritage item and placed on the State Heritage Register.

While the sale might be good news for prestige property hunters with a fat stack of cash, it’s not welcome news for the locals.

John Normyle, an architectural designer and previous Paddington Ward Councilor on the Woollahra Council, told WILLIAMS MEDIA he fears Four in Hand may suffer the same fate as the Windsor Castle Hotel, which has since been converted into a private residence.

“We don’t want to lose it. The same thing could happen to the Four in Hand as what happened to the Windsor Castle,” he said.

Normyle, who was Deputy Mayor in 1998 and also chaired the committee that created the first Paddington Heritage Development Control Plan in 1999, works with local groups to protect Paddington’s heritage. As an architectural designer, Normyle has completed over 100 heritage renovations for his clients in the Paddington area over the last 30 years.

He said the Windsor Castle Hotel lost its unique charm after the owner redeveloped it.

“A new owner decided to get rid of the liquor license and they turned it into a huge residence. They took all the old awnings off that made it look like a pub. It no longer has that feeling of a pub,” he said.

“The pub culture is changing. Justin Hemmes is doing a lot in Oxford Street, where he’s getting rid of the ‘pub’ pub, where people just go and drink and get very drunk. He’s turned it into bistros and cafes and restaurants. That’s what we were hoping would happen with the Four in Hand.

“The Four in Hand Hotel has a really high-quality restaurant that has a quiet atmosphere that doesn’t impact on the neighborhood. It brings life to the area, a feeling of community. We don’t want to lose that,” he said.

Community activist group, Keep Sydney Open, has been vocal throughout the campaign. More than 10,000 people have signed an online petition against the pub’s closure.

Campaign spokesperson and member of the local group ‘Save the Four’, Clint McGilvray, told WILLIAMS MEDIA the response from the public has been “incredible”.

“People are very frustrated and sad that the site will be flogged off to a developer. We’ve had community members knocking on our doors wanting to know how they can get involved and draw attention to the campaign. People are committed to ensuring that Paddington and the pub isn’t flogged off to developers,” he said.

While some have argued that there is more residential value in the site due to its 700sqm of internal space, McGilvray told WILLIAMS MEDIA you simply can’t put a price on such a historic, much-loved icon.

“Paddington is such an historical hub, and the Four in Hand pub is much-loved by the entire community, so it’s important we can retain our history for the future generations.

“While flogging the site off to a developer might be more financially beneficial for the owners, you can’t put a price on the economic loss to Paddington. This is one of the most historic parts of Sydney, it’s such a tragedy that we might lose it,” he said.

Click here to sign the petition to save the Four in Hand Hotel.

The Four in Hand pub will continue to trade as normal until a decision has been reached.

Visit Ray White Hotels to view the listing for Four in Hand Pub for sale.

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