Order of Occupancy consideration

Venues that host live entertainment are by nature vulnerable to noise complaints as well as the amenity issues that result from collective behaviour at performance times. The gentrification of traditional live music precincts has brought a loss of performance opportunities in local hotels. These are a result of noise complaints processes that did not take into account order of occupancy between the venue and the complainant, structural and material changes to either premises as well as any changes in the entertainment activity in the licensed premises undertaken over time.

Order of occupancy can be considered as a similar principle to “agent of change” (where the onus is on the party who has made the recent move, either by introducing music, or moving in next door) or “prior use” principles ( where the activity is indexed to the use of a premises such as a hotel for example, which whilst it may not host live entertainment all the time, has been a fixture in the local area, and there is a reasonable expectation that live entertainment is an activity you would normally associate with a consent for this type of land use.)

Whilst residents neighbouring venues certainly have the right to expect a reasonable amount of amenity, order of occupancy considerations in noise complaints processes can help protect against unreasonable expectations of what types of activity can be expected in inner city areas and where residential and hospitality industry venues are in close proximity to each other.

Consideration of structural changes

Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia are currently the only States which have a reference in the complaints process for liquor licensed premises where either party, as well as raising any change in activity over time, can also table the implications of any structural changes to either premises, whether the entertainment venue or neighbouring land uses.

Intensification of use protection

Complaints regulation and arbitration procedures that can assess any changes in entertainment activity over time offer protection to residents as well as consent authorities from any intensification of use arising in, for example, licensed cafes or restaurants, with small scale entertainment evolving into, say, high impact nightclubs.

As noted previously, Queensland , South Australia , New South Wales and Western Australia are currently the only States which have this type of context and flexibility in arbitration procedures for liquor licensed premises. This can be seen as a positive provision by both residents and licensees as it can give residents a forum in which to raise concerns if the entertainment is getting out of control, without killing the activity altogether.

Again, these provisions come under the general umbrella of “order of occupancy” considerations and are supported by a reference in the objects of the Act.