July 2003

Live concert Industry

The live music industry in Melbourne, Australia is pushing for a change in the law to put an obligation on builders and owners of new apartments built near live music venues to soundproof new buildings against the existing levels of noise. Venue owners say that as house and apartment prices in the inner city have soared, home owners’ expectations have changed and that new, more affluent residents don’t want to be kept awake at night by live music. Their complaints about noise to local authorities and liquor-licensing bodies are increasingly being taken seriously.
The owner of one live music venue objected to a three-storey apartment block being built in a warehouse shell behind his venue. The owner says one wall of the block will be just metres from venue’s back door and beer garden, and that plans show that windows from two bedrooms will be “directly adjacent” to the rear of the venue. The venue currently hosts live bands six nights a week, playing until 1am. The venue told the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal that builders should incorporate soundproofing into the new development but on March 31, VCAT ruled that the development could proceed although it directed the developers to employ an acoustic engineer to assess sound issues and make recommendations. But venue owners claim that the obligation to soundproof is one way only and that builders of residential development don’t have to put in soundproofing.
In a recent case the Rainbow Hotel spent $30,000 on noise-muffling measures after one resident complained to Yarra Council. The council referred the matter to the Liquor Licensing Commission, which fined the Rainbow $1000 four times for breaching noise restrictions. The resident had brought the apartment two years ago as a shell in a converted warehouse next to the venue. The venue had been operating for a number of years prior to the neighbouring warehouse’s change of use to residential from a previous light industrial zone.
Venue owners are now lobbying for a change in the law to incorporate “first occupancies” – that is, if the venue was there first, the new resident should have to soundproof their own premises (or pay for the venue to do so), rather than venues having to cater for people who move in – then complain.

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