Noisy Agent of Change

On 5 September 2014 the State government announced reforms to provide greater protection for live music venues in Victoria. The reforms are based on the “agent of change” principle, whereby a new sensitive development built near an existing live music venue will be responsible for noise mitigation as part of the planning process. Where a new music or entertainment venue proposes to establish, it will be their responsibility to manage impacts on noise sensitive residential neighbours.

The reforms have resulted in the new particular provision at Clause 52.43 Live Music and Entertainment Noise into the Victorian Planning Provisions, which is one of a number of changes under the banner of Live Music and Action Agenda, a package of reforms including:

  • A new Planning Practice Note to guide decision makers;
  • Changes to the building code with venues smaller than 500 square metres having lower building code compliance measures, expected end of 2014;
  • New licensing controls and laws;
  • Financial assistance to live music venue operators to assist in attenuation of music noise, available in 2015;
  • Review of the State noise standards currently underway, with the EPA seeking feedback on a discussion paper until 15 October 2014.

Clause 52.43 applies to an application required under any zone to use land for, or to construct a building or carry out works associated with:

  • a live music entertainment venue.
  • a noise sensitive residential use that is within 50 metres of a live music entertainment venue.

The clause does not apply to:

  • the extension of an existing dwelling.
  • a noise sensitive residential use that is in an area specified in the schedule to this clause.

The new provisions specify the various uses which comprise Live music entertainment venue or Noise sensitive residential use. Councils may also specify other types of venues in the schedule to the clause.

Clause 52.43-3 sets out specific application requirements to be met, including:

  • Designing, constructing and managing a new venue to minimise noise emissions to protect noise sensitive residential use within 50 metres of the venue;
  • A new noise sensitive residential use must be designed and constructed to include acoustic attenuation measures to reduce noise from indoor live music entertainment values to below SEPP N2 (State Environment Protection Policy (Control of Music Noise from Public Premises).

 When assessing whether these noise standards are met, the noise measurement point may be located inside a habitable room of a noise sensitive residential use with windows and doors closed.

A permit may be granted to reduce or waive these requirements if the responsible authority is satisfied that an alternative measure meets the purpose of this clause. Clause 52.43 also sets out specific information to be provided with an application, and decision guidelines.

The implications for BDAV members will mainly be in designing new houses or other residential buildings within 50 metres of an existing live music venue. In these cases the responsibility to address potential noise impacts on new residents is with the applicant, and needs consideration in the design process.

Notably, the new provisions do not appear to capture new houses which do not require a permit under the zone (e.g. single dwellings on larger lots). It also appears to require an existing live music venue to undertake acoustic attenuation measures (subject to the discretion of Council or VCAT to reduce or waive the requirements) for any buildings and works which trigger a permit under the zone, even if those works don’t change the emanating noise levels. There are no transitional provisions to this clause and any current undecided applications are therefore subject to the new provisions.

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