- Written by: Teela Griffin Penrith City Council (02) 4732 7777 (02) 4732 7958 email@example.com https://www.penrithcity.nsw.gov.au 601 High St Penrith NSW 2750 Australia
The historic Police Cottage at Emu Plains has been transformed into a vibrant dining destination, following an adaptive reuse of the site into a cafe and restaurant, to enhance our connection to the Nepean River.
Thanks to an innovative idea by Penrith City Council, the century-long history of the building was opened to the public in March 2023 for the first time in 70 years, ensuring this important local heritage feature is celebrated, conserved, and enjoyed for generations to come.
Originally built in 1908, the Police Cottage was sensitively restored by Penrith City Council to blend heritage and modern dining to deliver the café and restaurant, with outside seating and stunning views of the Nepean River.
The refurbishment of the Police Cottage was proudly funded by the NSW Government and Penrith City Council, with $1.5 million contributed from the NSW Government and a further $2.1 million from Council.
Located adjacent to the Yandhai Nepean Crossing, the Police Cottage has established a crucial link to the new Regatta Park precinct enhancing the area as a rejuvenated recreation, dining and entertainment destination.
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Completion of the main construction phase, including upgrades to services, roof and verandas, and outdoor privy, as well as the enhancement of internal spaces, was achieved in November 2022. Penrith City Council marked the occasion with an official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, attended by members of State and Federal Government, as well as project partners and former tenants.
The ceremony was opened by a traditional Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country, followed by an official ribbon cutting moment by Penrith Mayor Tricia Hitchen and Stuart Ayres MP, Member for Penrith.
The restoration of the Police Cottage into a bustling and vibrant precinct has set the benchmark for future heritage revitalisation projects in Penrith. The adaptive reuse of the site encourages families, friends and visitors to experience a taste of history while enjoying a coffee or a meal on the banks of the beautiful Nepean River.
Ahead of its opening to the public in March 2023, the event signified the handing over of the Police Cottage to food and beverage operators, Shane and Belinda Simpson, with fit-out works reaching completion in March 2023.
2023 UDIA Awards for Excellence, Retail Development category – Finalist
2023 UDIA Awards for Excellence, Urban Renewal category – Finalist
2023 National Trust Heritage Awards, Adaptive Re-Use category – Finalist
2023 Sustainability Awards, Adaptive Re-Use (Alteration – Addition) category – Shortlisted
2023 Community Achievement Awards for NSW, NSW Government Council Crown Land Management Excellence Award category – Finalist
Where is the site located?
The Police Cottage is located at 4 Punt Road Emu Plains.
What has been delivered at the Police Cottage site?
Council’s vision was to bring the Police Cottage back to life, through an adaptive reuse of the site into a café and restaurant, with outside seating that offers diners magnificent views of the Nepean River.
The historic building was sensitively refurbished with the restoration of the façade, replacement works to the verandas and roof, services upgrades, internal enhancements and the upgrade of the outdoor privy. An extension of the deck was also incorporated to create a 133 sqm outdoor dining area, shaded by a row of mature Jacaranda trees with views of the iconic Yandhai Nepean Crossing and the Nepean River.
The restoration of the Police Cottage is a key project in the ‘Our River’ Nepean River masterplan to create a rejuvenated recreation, dining and entertainment precinct with improved access to the river.
This project not only helps attract more visitors to the Nepean River, but also celebrates and conserves an important heritage building for generations to come.
What is the history of the Police Cottage?
The Police Cottage is a local heritage building, as the purpose-built police station and residence for Emu Plains from 1908 to 1921. It was then used as a residence for Penrith Police officers until the 1950s, before being rented as a private home and eventually becoming vacant in 2015. The Police Cottage forms part of the historical development of the locality of Emu Plains and was designed by the Government Architects Branch.
How was the site’s history preserved?
Council remains committed to preserving the history of the site for generations to come. In 2020 a Conservation Management Plan was prepared which helped guide Council in the care and management of the site. In addition a Statement of Heritage Impact was also prepared to guide the development to ensure that the proposed alterations and additions incorporated relatively minor changes to the existing fabric of the building.
Council also worked closely with the NSW Police Memorial & Historical Society Inc to share information regarding the history of the site and its association with NSW Police, as well as ensuring any artefacts were preserved.
Following a competitive tender process, Council then partnered with AMA Projects Pty Ltd, selected for their demonstrated expertise in heritage refurbishments, to deliver the adaptive reuse of the historic Police Cottage.
Who operates the café and restaurant?
In June 2021, Council conducted a formal Request for Tender for a hospitality operator for the Police Cottage.
In October 2021, renowned retailer 2773 Café Glenbrook (2773), was announced as the food and beverage operator for the Police Cottage.
Owners of 2773, Shane and Belinda Simpson were chosen as they shared Council’s vision for the site and their passion for the local community shone through in their application. They also demonstrated an appreciation for preserving the history of the building as well as having extensive experience running multiple successful venues in the local area.
The café and restaurant, now operating as Laughin’ Boy, officially opened in March 2023.
The menu showcases modern Australian cuisine with a focus on local and sustainable produce delivered in a casual dining setting, as well as offering quick service takeaway. The cafe and restaurant has become the ideal place for family, friends, and visitors to eat, meet and relax while soaking up the magnificent views of the river.