Sheesh…that didn’t go well

Shesh Besh’s shisha bar beside its restaurant operated for more than three years.

AN unauthorised shisha bar in Leederville operated for three years despite multiple shutdown notices from Vincent council, the latest sign of an ongoing weakness in enforcing planning rules.

This week the council voted to refuse a long-overdue application to operate from Shesh Besh, an indoors middle eastern restaurant beside a hangar-style shisha patio which opened at 209 Oxford Street in December 2019.

Vincent staff first sent the operators a letter in July 2020 advising them they couldn’t sell shisha without council approval. To get a shisha bar or any other smoking area approved usually involves convincing the council the smoke won’t be a nuisance to neighbours.

Despite that letter Shesh Besh kept the bar operating. 


Over the next two years a couple more complaints rolled in and Vincent sent off a couple more orders to shut down.

Shesh Besh’s owner, a group called “MKZD Investments Pty Ltd”, finally lodged a development application in May 2022, but kept operating in the meantime. 

In November 2022 Vincent initiated a prosecution over the unauthorised use, an action that’s still ongoing as the council finally considered and then refused the retrospective approval request at its March 14 meeting.

Unluckily for Shesh Besh, they would have had a better chance getting the shisha bar approved if they’d lodged an application back when they opened. Since then the council’s approved a policy that makes it much harder to open any smoking premises that could affect neighbours. 

The council’s also rejected two other shisha bars on the grounds they’d affect neighbours.

At the March 14 meeting Vincent councillors heard from Libby Jardine who heads up the Cancer Council’s Tobacco Issues Committee.

Ms Jardine urged the council to shut Shesh Besh’s shisha bar down, saying “the proposal will detrimentally impact on the amenity of the surrounding area.

“Water pipe or shisha emissions can harm non-smokers the same way second hand cigarette smoking does,” Ms Jardine said, adding “the proposal has not demonstrated that the risk of emissions could be appropriately mitigated.”

As the application was rejected, mayor Emma Cole said: “This is a consistent position that the city has taken recently on shisha bars, and now we do have the Local Planning Policy in place… and it basically takes a view that these issues do affect amenity. We’ve had residents contact us very concerned by second hand smoke and the amenity issued cause to their property.”

Enforcement queried

THERE’S been a few notable cases of businesses operating without council approval recently, prompting concerns from a couple of councillors about whether planning enforcement has teeth.

Another Shisha bar, the now-closed Petra Lounge at 624 Beaufort Street, opened without approval in late 2021.  Amid a flurry of complaints from neighbours it operated for five months in defiance of a council order to shut down (“Shisha bids snuffed,” Voice, September 24, 2022).


At last month’s ordinary meeting councillors also heard a commercial carpark at 192 Stirling Street operated for six years without approval. Its operators only got a five-year approval in 2012 as the council didn’t really want a carpark taking up a block long term and stifling some better development opportunity.

The approval expired in 2017 and no one noticed until the issue came to council in February 2023, when it was realised the owners hadn’t maintained the landscaping and gardens; a condition of approval to make the site look a bit less crappy than a bare carpark.  

At February’s meeting Cr Ross Ioppolo said it was concerning the council’s admin had not noticed the carpark was still there after the time limit expired, and that the owner hadn’t stuck to their landscaping commitment. 

“My concern is that in many, many development applications that we’re asked to consider in this chamber, that council and administration regularly recommend conditions,” usually mitigations intended to lessen a development’s impact, like landscaping, noise-proofing or public art components.

“What can administration put in place to proactively ensure that non-compliant behaviour… [does not] go unchecked?”

Council staff told him they had no compliance system back then. They have one now, but face staff shortages which hampers their ability to pursue non-compliance.

Councillors voted to let the carpark stay open (since the policy against carparks on vacant lots expired years ago), and were assured the compliance team would check in and make sure the owner does the landscaping they were supposed to do back in 2012. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s