By ALLISON HORE
A motion before the Inner West council would see Newtown’s Enmore Theatre declared as the state’s first “Special Entertainment Precinct.”
The motion, tabled by Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne and Labor councillor Anna York, comes after the NSW parliament passed special laws allowing local councils to declare venues and geographic areas as “Special Entertainment Precincts.”
The declaration gives venues incentives like extended trading hours and less onerous noise management conditions. Queensland has had a similar scheme in place since 2006, but if the motion is passed by council, the Enmore Theatre would become the first Special Entertainment Precinct in NSW.
“For years live music venues have been going broke as a result of over regulation of noise complaints, enforced by multiple government agencies including councils, the liquor regulator and the Police,” he said.
“This Special Entertainment Precincts program will reduce the number of government agencies someone can lodge complaints to just one – the local council.”
Mr. Byrne says declaring the Enmore theatre as an entertainment precinct would complement the councils “Good Neighbour policy,” which requires all noise and amenity complaints about pubs, clubs and small bars to be “mitigated not litigated.”
Under the policy, rather than just slapping fines onto venue operators, Council staff convene meetings between offending venues and the complainants. Council says the policy not only helps to resolve issues, but also protects long standing live music venues from complaints from new developments and residents.
NIMBYism and noise
In 2017, the Sydney Opera House was fined $15,000 for a series of noise complaints made during a 2015 Florence and the Machine concert on the forecourt.
The complaints were made by residents living in the exclusive Bennelong Apartments, colloquially known as the “Toaster.” The building, constructed in the ‘90s, is just 150 meters from the Opera House.
The high profile case raised questions about whether residents moving into new developments so close to well-established live entertainment venues had the right to complain about noise.
“The person who moves in next to a pub or live music venue and complains about the noise is not just a cliché,” Mr. Byrne said.
“Sadly, in Sydney, NIMBY neighbours have been supported by powerful government agencies in shutting down music venues.”
If councils wish to create a Special Entertainment Precinct, under the new laws, they must prepare and publish a plan for regulating amplified noise from premises within it and notify residents and people moving into the area about the precinct.
The motion for Enmore Theatre to be declared an entertainment precinct will be discussed in an upcoming council meeting, but it’s not the only venue council is looking to recognise.
Mr. Byrne said other Inner West venues that should be considered for recognition include Marrickville Road, from Illawarra Road to Sydenham Station, Norton Street in Leichhardt and Darling Street in Balmain.