To be published in the September 2021 edition of Bowls Queensland’s Queensland Bowler magazine.
Expanding or renovating your club is an exciting project that can bring with it a number of benefits. But it is the type of project that can throw a number of unforeseen obstacles your way if not approached correctly. We have seen instances where venues are well into a construction program and discover that they have not met the relevant council building approval or town planning requirements. As bowls clubs are generally licensed premises, any alterations to the licensed area of the club must be approved by the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR), which often proves to be an oversight of venues when planning such projects.
In most situations where you decide to undertake construction works to a property, you are required under the Planning Act 2016 to seek certification by the local council for the works. Often this can be achieved by simply obtaining a Building Approval. This involves having plans professionally drawn, lodged with Council and approved.
However, where the renovations will significantly change or intensify the use of the premises, town planning approval may also be required. This can create a number of issues. A common one being that council may require you to provide more car parking spaces, which, depending on the layout of your premises, could be problematic.
It is therefore critical to obtain appropriate town planning advice to avoid any unforeseen setbacks. As town planning approvals can take a substantial amount of time, it is important that you take these steps at the outset.
The Liquor Act requires licensees to obtain approval from the OLGR prior to commencing works unless the works do not materially alter the licensed premises in any way and are valued under $50,000. The relevant application forms can be found on the OLGR website. You will also need to lodge layout plans showing the proposed changes, and a plan of the site showing the existing and new licensed areas (if this is to change as part of the renovation works). A failure to obtain this prior approval usually leads to an on the spot fine. It is also important to remember that this may impact your compliance history which in turn could lead to higher annual licence fees.
If the proposed works relate to a gaming room and the gaming machines need to either be switched off or relocated as part of the renovation or refurbishment works, then specific approval needs to be obtained from the OLGR to change the gaming room layout, as well as approval to store the machines if they will be stored for more than two months. Your Licensed Monitoring Operator will also need to be notified.
The OLGR will want to conduct a final inspection once the works have been completed to clarify the licensed area and suggest any appropriate conditions that may be required. Depending on the facilities and the changes that have been made, you may also need an acoustic report to determine new noise conditions.
Comprehensive planning is paramount to a successful expansion or renovation project. Clubs and their committees should conduct appropriate due diligence, including the careful selection of consultants and builders, proper consideration of cash-flow costs and the overall business case that supports the decision.
If you require any assistance in relation to potential works at your club, please contact me on (07) 3224 0353.