31 July 2019

Government extends daytime volume limits but no noise on entertainment precincts

| Lachlan Roberts
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Music lovers gathered in Garema Place earlier this year to protest the ACT’s restrictive noise laws. Photos: Ruwendi Wakwella.

The ACT Government says it will extended daytime noise limits to “protect Canberra’s live music scene” but the Liberals and Greens are still calling on the government to create dedicated entertainment precincts across the city, labelling the government’s reforms as “baby steps”.

The Government has announced it will extend noise limits on Friday and Saturday nights from 10 pm to midnight in Civic and other town centres and 11 pm in group centres such as Dickson, Erindale and Kingston, to allow venues to make amplified noise longer into the evenings on weekends.

Minister for Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman said the Government will also task the National Capital Design Review Panel to consider acoustic amenity when it reviews mixed-use developments and providing noise limit information for residents and businesses on ACT Government maps.

Music ACT president David Caffery organised a protest concert in Garema Place last month.

ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury said as the city’s density increases, there is an increasing conflict between residents and noise made at entertainment venues.

Mr Rattenbury said entertainment precincts are needed in a number of places, including Braddon, Gungahlin and Belconnen, but an entertainment precinct in Civic was a matter of urgency.

“These are some good baby steps but there is a whole lot more to do to protect the live music scene in the ACT,” he said. “The fundamental solution is to create entertainment precincts.

“Entertainment precincts help to protect the long-term future of the music and entertainment industry without exposing residents or businesses to unreasonable or unexpected levels of noise,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“Places like Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley have been future-proofed, letting music and nightlife live right alongside development.

“Without entertainment precincts, areas like Garema Place will continue to be quiet and underutilised – and worst of all, boring!”

Mr Rattenbury said the Standing Committee on Planning gave the ACT Government nine recommendations to support live music in the nation’s capital in 2009, but the ACT Government has not acted upon those recommendations.

“Our musicians, our residents and Canberra music-lovers and party-goers deserve better. Entertainment precincts have been years in the making – and with developments going up at a rate of knots around the city, now is the time to act,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“Today marks 3,475 days since the recommendations were delivered. Sadly there has been no government action since.”

Greens leader Shane Rattenbury: Government must heed recommendations. File photo.

Mr Gentleman said the ACT Government is continuing to work to identify suitable locations for special entertainment precincts in the ACT Planning review.

“The Government has listened to the concerns raised by advocates of Canberra’s live music scene, and we believe that these reforms will help live music and entertainment thrive in our city, town and group centres, boosting our night-time economy and supporting jobs in the Territory,” Mr Gentleman said.

“We thank the music and arts community for their feedback so far and will continue to engage with them about issues such as live performances and events as part of our ACT Planning review consultations.”

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Road noise in my apartment is already well above the current limits for music venues so I doubt I could hear music over it. Any plans on reducing road noise for apartments near major roads Mr Rattenbury? Do the Greens have a policy about livability?

When the 2006 Planning and Development Bill was open for discussion, I was doing some work for the ACT Greens and some community groups. We urged then Planning Minister Simon Corbell to do something about prior occupancy rules. He refused.

So now we have reached the stage where the ALP finally has to do something, but far too little, far too late.

There are many instances where prior occupancy rules would have overcome unintended consequences such as this. What a shame that the arrogant and intransigent ALP refuses to listen to common sense.

It’s time this mob was booted and let someone else have a go.

But who?

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