RECEIVING approval for a development application will be the first step towards the reopening of the O'Connell Hotel.
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The family-owned business was run by co-owner James Derriman from 2002 until 2010, then was leased out to tenants up until the start of the year.
Mr Derriman decided to take the helm again in January 2022, and being 20 years since originally purchasing the hotel, a facelift was on the cards.
"The plans are designed to open the pub up, and really celebrate the incredible beer garden with the beautiful elm tree in the centre and to also create a better connection with the beautiful river flats at the back," Mr Derriman said.
"We want to make the pub more family-friendly, where kids can run and play and parents can relax and watch them from their table."
The new plans include an extension at the back of the pub, which will feature a new and larger kitchen, new bathrooms and a new dining room.
The current cool room will move, allowing better access to the bar, and the beer garden will expand to include outdoor fireplaces and a deck overlooking the river flats.
A secure playground will also be a new addition to keep children entertained.
Mr Derriman said with the O'Connell region continuing to grow, expanding and upgrading the facilities at the pub is vital to ensure the business can serve the community well into the future.
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"The current kitchen is very small and a lot of the amenities are outdated," he said.
"With more and more subdivisions opening up in the O'Connell region, the local community is expanding rapidly and the pub in its current state can't meet the needs of the growing community anymore."
While the pub will receive a significant facelift pending DA approval, retaining the heritage and charm of the O'Connell Hotel is important to the owners.
Mr Derriman said they have gone to considerable lengths to preserve the historical significance of the pub and the land, which included working with a heritage consultant.
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"We are fiercely committed to celebrating and protecting the heritage of this 157-year-old establishment," he said.
"The O'Connell Hotel's greatest asset is its historical charm, which will definitely be preserved."
Heading forward, Mr Derriman also plans to build a replica of the original bar and revive the old bakery building which hasn't been used for baking since the 1950s.
For now though, the owners will wait for DA approval and take it one step at a time, with the application on public exhibition until September 22.
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