Plan to soundproof noisy entertainment venues in Northbridge approved by City of Perth council

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Perth City council has backed away from clamping down on noise at Northbridge entertainment venues.

For more than three years, the City of Perth has been developing a policy to manage future conflicts between noisy venues and residential areas within Northbridge, leaving some existing businesses up in arms over what’s been proposed.

The policy — dubbed Amendment 41 — was first brought to the council in 2019 and included creation of a “core area”, where sound levels of up to 95 decibels would be allowed for existing entertainment venues, and a “frame area” with an allowable level of 79 decibels.

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The core area would be bounded by Aberdeen Street, William Street, Roe Street and Parker Street.

The frame area would surround the core and follow Newcastle Street, Stirling Street, Wellington Street and Fitzgerald Street.

But council agreed in September 2020, based on advice from the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage, to add changes to Amendment 41, which the public was then consulted on from October 2020 to February 2021.

Those changes included a reduction in the noise level limit for the core area to 90 decibels, equivalent to noise generated by a leaf blower and deletion of a provision which would enable existing entertainment venues in the Frame to operate at 90 decibels.

Camera IconChanges also included a portion of the Perth Cultural Centre as well as Metro Nightclub, The Court Hotel and The Aberdeen Hotel. Credit: Bill Hatto/WA News

Changes also included a portion of the Perth Cultural Centre as well as Metro Nightclub, The Court Hotel and The Aberdeen Hotel to be included in the core area, while Shenton and Roe Streets are proposed to also form part of the frame area.

Australian Hotel Association WA State membership and licensing manager Michael Andrew said at a briefing session last week noise limit to 90dB would lead to the potential closure of live entertainment venues and venues with outdoor areas in Northbridge.

The Court Hotel owner Bree Maddox said the proposed changes to Amendment 41 would “decimate” her business and potentially close it.

“It would be the end of our beer garden, we would simply not be able to comply … we don’t want to end that but it plays over 90dB,” she said.

“We don’t want venues to close, we don’t want venues to have to significantly alter their operations, we don’t want the (Northbridge) precinct to lose character, we don’t want giant walls and concrete boxes around our venues.

“We don’t want to cancel all live bands and music and beer gardens but that’s what this amendment can lead to.”

She said the proposed policy did not protect existing Northbridge venues.

I’m almost certain we will not please everyone with the decision we make tonight but I also resolute that our stakeholders are looking to us for a decision to be made.

The Aberdeen Hotel and Paramount Nightclub owner Mario Madaffari said Amendment 41 did not allow for a viable entertainment industry.

But it’s a different kettle of fish for DoubleTree by Hilton Northbridge manager Mohammed Limdiwala, who said his corporate guests complain of experiencing low frequency bass noise on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights while they sleep.

“We have had over 60 complaints in the last six months alone where the low frequency bass noise continues until 5am in the morning and is keeping the guests awake at night,” he said.

“It’s the bass noise that carries through the building … you can hear the songs of the nightclub, you can’t hear people.

“It doesn’t matter being the tallest building in Northbridge and it doesn’t matter where we move guests in the middle of the night and running around with luggage, the noise continues.”

The amended policy went to council on Tuesday night but it was turned down, and councillors instead backed a raft of new amendments to the policy in a bid to ease concerned entertainment venue owners.

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