Distilling entreprenuer seeks to turn Juniper Hall, Paddington grounds into a beer garden

Sydney never ventures too far from its rowdy rum days. Word is Paddington's iconic heritage-listed Juniper Hall could soon become a beer garden. It's the oldest surviving building east of the city by most records.

The two-storey Georgian Oxford Street mansion -  with two Norfolk Island pines in the grounds - dates back to 1824,  and the days of Governor Lachlan Macquarie.

It was ofcourse built from the proceeds of liquor - the pioneering entrepreneurial Robert Cooper, an ex-convict who made his wealth from gin distilling.

It was last September when the NSW National Trust secured $4,551,000 from the well-known Moran healthcare family, who own a portfolio of heritage properties. Controversy had surrounded the listing as local residents petitioned to keep the National Trust property in public hands. It had been restored in 1988 with funds contributed by Amatil, the NSW Bicentenary Council and the NSW National Trust.

Neighbours were happy on hearing the Moran's stated plan as turning the historic premises into an art gallery to house the Moran Prizes, which are sponsored by the Moran Arts Foundation. They were also advised the first floor and attic would be converted into a private residence for one of the family members.

"We are delighted that Juniper Hall will be restored by the Moran family, a family who have a dedicated passion for heritage and the arts,'' Brian Scarsbrick CEO of the National Trust of Australia (NSW) said at the time.

But Andy Ruwald, co-owner of the Bucket List in Bondi Beach, has recently lodged two development applications with Woollahra Council effectively for an open air bar and restaurant on the front lawn of the property.

It has a maximum capacity of 350 patrons and consist of 20 tables, 40 benches and an island bar.

The neighbouring property, The Imperial Hotel recently completed an expensive renovation with a significant costs associated with sound containment.

The initial 248 Oxford Street, Paddington Juniper Hall application put to the Woollahra Council to use the front and rear gardens sought 8am to 11pm weekday and Sunday's and public holidays from 8am to 10pm.

The Moran family are renowned for restoring historic homes across Sydney including Redleaf in Wahroonga.

Family matriarch Greta Moran is actually a distant relative of Sarah Cooper, the wife of Robert Cooper.

But their heritage passion has occasionally been accompanied by neighbour-upsetting revenue desires - most recently at the Gothic home Swifts at Darling Point.

The proposal highlights how residents and property investors can never take their neighbourhood for granted. Watching out for local council development applications is an almost weekly responsibility.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

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