In an important initiative for the Australian music industry, the Western Australian state government has recently been engaging with the community on reforms to establish special entertainment precincts in Northbridge in Perth.

The Live Music Office has been connected with the music and hospitality sector as well as state and local government through the development of the proposal, and is supportive of the establishment of precincts that are designed to provide better protection for venues and clear and consistent guidelines for new developments.

Key components of the proposal include:

  • Requirements for new developments to have a notification placed on the title to inform buyers of the potential for higher noise levels due to their location in a special entertainment precinct.
  • Guiding principles that:
    • ensure all new noise-sensitive (including residential) developments demonstrate how construction and design will minimise the impact of entertainment noise on residents.
    • ensure all new entertainment venues demonstrate how construction and design will minimise entertainment noise emitted from the venue.
  • Capacity to provide for certain entertainment venues to exceed the assigned (prescribed) noise levels for day-to-day operations through a venue approval process.

It’s important to recognise the scheme amendment should it succeed is initially for Northbridge in Perth only, and we are supportive that these reforms also provide the framework for wider application for any local government to establish special entertainment precincts within their area subject to community consultation – a question that was a common theme raised by industry in consideration.

Another point we have made in our submission is we support the capacity for the precinct regulations to be applied to a single venue as well as streetscape/city block. We also note these reforms apply to new developments and extensions, and will not apply retrospectively.

There is a concern that existing venues with outdoor areas may be unduly impacted in the core and frame areas. Our view is that beer gardens and patron noise be excluded from the musical sound emission assessments unless crowd noise is part of a performance. Patron noise is almost impossible to control as it’s outside and can’t be ‘turned down’. Control measure are different for patron noise such e.g.. wave guides.

The issues faced by venues and residents where adjacent in night economy areas would be set to continue unless a balanced and workable solution can be found. In our view the use of a special entertainment precincts provides the best coordinated response to achieve balance and reduce land use conflict between businesses and residents in the Western Australian context.

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