Email to Sydney City Council

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For those who have not been following my updates via my newsletter, here is the reason why I have not been open for the last fortnight –

Two weeks ago an officer from Sydney City Council dropped in for a surprise inspection at my Darlinghurst studio.  Evidently someone had lodged a report to say that I was illegally operating a restaurant from these premises.

A quick lookaround seemed to satisfy the inspector that there is no validity to those claims, but he indicated that since their records said this was registered as a photographic studio, I needed to drop in to see a duty planner to clarify what I am allowed to do here and take it from there.

I agreed to do so – I told him I was leaving for Newcastle in two days for several days but that I would drop in the following week, which he was fine about.  In the meantime I made some phonecalls including to a duty planner at Sydney City Council itself (uninformative), my real estate agent and the owner of my property.  I was delayed going in to see the duty planner because of Noah’s condition but updated the officer via email and advised him likewise and told him I would go in the following week.

Anyhow, this morning whilst I was out, I got a phonecall from a different officer from Sydney City Council from outside my premises, wanting to come in to inspect it.  Again.  Based on the SAME complaint that I thought had already been disproved.

Here is my email response to the original inspector –

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xxxyyy I understand you’re on leave but I’m hoping your mail gets redirected to the right people.  As mentioned in my previous email, my baby has been sick and has had to spend a night at the hospital.  He is still not well hence my inability to drop in at the Kings Cross Neighbourhood Centre until today to talk to a duty planner.

I have now been there and contrary to my understanding from our conversation when you were here, I have been told they don’t in fact have the DA electronically and they are therefore unable to advise me on any specifics of this location.
I have now filed an Access to Information Request which I’m told will take up to 10 days to get processed.  I have also spoken to the owner of the property who told me that PRIOR to its being registered as a photographic studio, it had been approved for storage and they were under the impression that instead of overwriting the existing use, that the photographic studio component was meant to supplement it.
I will have to wait until the DA paperwork comes through so I can have a look and proceed from there.
In the meantime, whilst I was out this morning I received a phonecall from a Mr. bbbccc who was apparently your replacement in your absence.  He was outside my property and wanted to come in and did not seem to believe me when I told him I wasn’t home, which I find patently offensive – I’m not in the business of lying or hiding.
I updated him on everything that has preceded but he was adamant he had to inspect the property because he said thanks to my Mastercard logo outside, he suspected I WAS in fact still operating a restaurant here per the original complaint.  I had thought you had already established that is NOT the case, but I cannot reiterate strongly enough that I have NEVER operated as a restaurant at these premises and we are now just trying to establish what I AM in fact allowed to do.
You had indicated that I might be able to fall under existing use specifications in view of the fact that instead of photographing people I am now photographing and videoing food.  I have NO interest in using these premises for anything beyond what I had mentioned ie. for storage of my frozen meals which are produced OFFSITE in proper commercial kitchen facilities and for food videos and photography.
I have not even been open a single day since you came in to visit so I do not appreciate the additional harassment especially in view of the fact that I have kept you updated on a regular basis and shown that I have in good faith followed all the requisite steps in ensuring I am in compliance.
Mr. bbbccc insisted I provided him a timeframe for when I would visit the neighbourhood centre, and after conveying to him three times I was going in this week, when the information did not seem to register, I told him this is, frankly, a load of bullshit and hung up on him.  I have no doubt he will call again to find out the status of this in due course but I figured I should let you know since I don’t have his contact details.
Jackie M.

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