Soho House Faces Hurdles in Darlinghurst: Neighbours and City Request Changes

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Why are residents and the City of Sydney putting up roadblocks to the arrival of the exclusive Soho House in Darlinghurst, and what does this mean for the iconic club’s future Down Under?

In the heart of Sydney’s Darlinghurst, plans for a new Soho House are facing delays and challenges as neighbours voice concerns and the City of Sydney calls for alterations to the development. 

The project, backed by the Smorgon family, one of Australia’s wealthiest, and the Trenerry Property Group, had aimed to bring the renowned luxury private members’ club to the city. Still, not everyone is thrilled with the idea.

Residents living near the proposed location have raised several issues that have sent the developers back to the drawing board. 

Some neighbours fear that Soho House staff on breaks will disturb the peace with their loud conversations, while others worry about guests potentially knocking over bins, which could attract people looking for food. 

Concerns about rodents being attracted to the area have also been expressed.

One resident’s email captured the sentiment: “I would like to see that the business put proper pest control in place to mitigate rodents being attracted to the area, which is already at unacceptable levels”.

Another noted that staff on breaks might “disturb the peace” of the neighbourhood.

A Rocky Road to Realisation: Previous Abandonment and City Requests

Soho House had previously faced opposition in Victoria, abandoning plans to develop a club in South Yarra’s historic Poolman House mansion. 

Now, the challenges continue in Darlinghurst as the City of Sydney has requested changes to the development plans, citing various concerns.

Toga Group, which is constructing a new precinct in the vicinity, expressed concerns that the Soho House project could alter views of iconic Sydney landmarks, including the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. 

Toga says the site’s orientation could “severely impact iconic views.”

A Growing Trend: Private Clubs on the Rise

Private clubs are experiencing a boom across the Asia-Pacific region, and Soho House is not alone in its expansion efforts. 

The luxury private members’ club already has venues in Hong Kong, Mumbai, and Bangkok, and Australia is not immune to this trend. 

Property developer Tim Gurner recently opened Saint Haven, a private wellness club in Melbourne, with plans for additional sites in Sydney, the Gold Coast, and Brisbane.

While the project’s development team has remained tight-lipped about when the Soho House in Sydney might open its doors, the lodged plans indicate an array of amenities that could make it a sought-after destination. 

The Sydney club is set to include a spa, gym, cabaret, lounge, bar, and restaurant, promising a luxurious experience for its members.

Mixed Reactions from Residents

Amid the concerns and opposition, not all residents are against the development. 

Matt McGrath, a marketing executive at Deloitte who lives nearby, expressed optimism about the project. 

He believes it could usher in a “great new era for Darlinghurst” and emphasised that the goal is to make it as good as possible. McGrath stated, “This isn’t about ‘not in my backyard’; it’s about how to make it as good as possible.”
As plans for Sydney’s Soho House continue to evolve, it remains to be seen how developers will address neighbours’ concerns and meet the expectations of a city known for its iconic views and vibrant lifestyle.

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