7 minute read

DESIGN & BUILD: PLOUGH & ALE

Where the country meets the suburbs

Laundy Hotels has opened its greenfields pub Plough & Ale in a new residential development in the Shellharbour region of New South Wales.

IN EARLY 2020, Lendlease approached Laundy Hotels in the hopes that they would consider building pubs in a couple of their new residential developments around New South Wales, having been impressed with the recent builds by the pub group in the Marsden Brewhouse in Sydney’s north-west, and The Locker Room at Sydney Olympic Park.

“They talked about Jordan Springs and Calderwood as two new suburbs that needed social infrastructure, and they thought a hotel would be a great addition to their town centres as both developments had town centres planned,” explains Craig Laundy.

After some consideration, Laundy Hotels bought land in both new developments in early 2020 and set to work creating pubs for these new communities from scratch. The first to open is Plough & Ale in Calderwood, a new development that sits in a valley nestled between the escarpment and the sea in the Shellharbour region.

From the beginning, Plough & Ale was a project overseen by Craig and his wife Suzie, as well as his sister Danielle and her husband Shane. Before beginning work on the concept of the pub, it was important to get an idea of the community they would be catering to, particularly as the development was new. The group went about this in two ways: Shane and Danielle spoke to their suppliers who did business in the area to get demographic data, while Craig visited the area, speaking to residents and asking them what they would look for in a tavern.

“It was a bit of gut feeling and understanding pubs and markets having done it for a long time, and then Shane and Danielle took a more formal approach in getting demographic data off suppliers that we could have a look it, and it became clear pretty clear that it would be a worthwhile venture to be involved in,” states Laundy.

Paying homage

When building the concept for the hotel, Laundy Hotels engaged branding company Made By Mustard which did research on the local area. Its history included a lot of migration from the UK, and has for a long time been an area favoured by dairy farmers. Hence the Plough & Ale was born.

Dairy farming elements have been used throughout the space to honour its history, while the building itself is modern – just like the Calderwood development itself.

00A photographer was commissioned to take shots of the farms in the surrounding areas, and the entry hallway of the pub is filled with black-and-white photography of both dilapidated and modern farm buildings.

Outside at the front entry from the carpark a rusted-out plough that was found from an old farm in the area has been installed as a feature. Several small details linking back to dairy farms can be found throughout the pub, from imagery of cows, to plough spokes used as wall hangings.

“We’ve tried to be very clever in paying homage to the history of the area. It’s a modern play on a traditional English pub. That’s what we’ve gone for,” suggests Laundy.

PAST THE POST

The Plough & Ale got some surprise visitors recently, when six farmers rode down to the pub on horseback.

“Some local farm owners had jumped on their horses and ridden down the back streets to the Plough & Ale, and they’ve tethered up the horses against the paling fence and headed in for a bite to eat,” says Laundy.

“We didn’t expect that obviously, but it shows you that the agricultural element of that fence would’ve historically been used for exactly that purpose. It’s really quite something to see, something you wouldn’t expect to see nowadays at a modern pub.”

Back to front

The main challenge with the Plough & Ale site was that behind the pub is a man-made lake along with a landscaped garden area created by Lendlease. With such a pleasant view at the back of the pub, the group wanted to ensure this was the focus, rather than the street frontage.

“Even though that’s technically the back of the pub because the street frontage is on the other side to the lake, it was the aesthetically pleasing part. So what we basically did is flip the pub,” explains Laundy.

“So the front of the pub is really the back of the pub where we’ve got all of the back of house and the toilets. And the back of the pub is this big pavilion style with two really nice indoor-outdoor areas opening off it and a big beer garden fronting the lake and the walkway around it.”

Laundy Hotels engaged Team 2 Architects to design the hotel, and Design Madgwick for the interiors. The hotel offer is based around food and families, with a small gaming room that is separated from much of the pub. The main areas are the bistro and dining area, and then the sports bar and TAB. Both areas each then have the glass encased indoor-outdoor pavilions that can be climate controlled or opened up depending on the weather. On the bistro side there is also a beer garden overlooking the lake, as well as a large kids’ playground.

For Laundy, the building they’ve created is an architectural feat, especially when viewed from the other side of the lake. It’s also surrounded by quintessential Australian coastline geography.

“When you stand on the other side of the lake and you look at what is technically the back of the pub, which is the glass pavilion structure, it is architecturally a really special building. It’s north-facing, that pavilion, which is clearly the best angle for light.

“When you sit in that beer garden to your immediate west is the Macquarie Pass Escarpment, which is spectacular Australian geography and topography. It’s just a really decent place to have a beer and a bite to eat.”

Plenty of locals agree. The hotel quietly opened at the beginning of August with plans to do a soft open with no promotion as the hotel group dealt with training up new and fairly green staff.

“We attempted to open softly, but we haven’t been able to because we’ve been swamped right out of the gates! And if we make mistakes, people have been really understanding. We’re apologetic, we explain that we’re brand new and that we’ve got new staff and we’re learning.

“But people can see that we’re trying to do something different. It’s been very well received, above expectations.”

Having opened over a wet winter, Laundy Hotels are gearing up for a massive summer at the Plough & Ale.