When news broke earlier this month that The Village Inn could be calling last drinks after 133 years, Paddington locals spoke up. Community Facebook groups have been overrun with outrage, letters have been sent to council and a Change.org petition, which was launched on August 1, has amassed over 2600 signatures.
Beyond a commitment to its heritage, the general sentiment is that a pub with a good roast, no pokies and a balcony that’s sunny even in the depths of winter deserves to be protected.
The proposed development application will preserve the pub’s facade while gutting the interior to house a flagship Alemais store at ground level and an office space upstairs. Alemais’ development application, which comes after the brand purchased the pub in January, and heritage impact statement (which was overseen by Weir Phillips Heritage and Planning), argue that the pub has become “unnecessary in modern-day Paddington”. Paddington Ward councillor Harriet Price disagrees.
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“Pubs are recognised as a valuable ‘third space’, [providing] meeting spaces and opportunities for social connection and companionship,” Price tells Broadsheet. “The pub’s heritage listing actually recognised its social significance ‘as an enduring reference point for community identity’. I love a good frock, but not at the expense of a heritage-listed pub.”
The Village Inn is believed to be Paddington’s oldest remaining watering hole. Operating exclusively as a pub since it opened in 1890, it’s been known as both the Rose & Crown Hotel and Durty Nelly’s. As well as the fact that high-end clothing and beauty retailers are over-represented in Paddington, with more than 20 such stores lining the streets around The Village Inn, this is just the latest in a string of historically significant local venues threatened by redevelopment. The Albury Hotel has been turned into a retail space and the Windsor Castle Hotel became a $13 million private residence.
The Four in Hand managed to avoid a similar fate after a successful community campaign, which Price refers to as “Paddington activism at its finest”. The Save the Four in Hand Change.org petition ultimately garnered 12,320 signatures in support.
Beyond signing the petition, anyone looking to support The Village Inn is encouraged to attend the Save The Inn rally at 3pm on Saturday August 12 and, of course, buy a pint.