By ALLISON HORE
The Inner West council has voted unanimously to support a proposal to make Enmore Road, including the Enmore Theatre, the state’s first “Special Entertainment Precinct.”
The motion comes after the NSW parliament passed special laws allowing local councils to declare venues and geographic areas as “Special Entertainment Precincts.” The law was part of a suite of 63 amendments to the local government act designed to promote live music venues.
Initially, Inner West mayor Darcy Byrne only wanted to see the Enmore Theatre declared an entertainment precinct. But following a last minute amendment, now the whole of Enmore Road’s main strip will be made a special entertainment precinct.
“This groundbreaking change will give real incentives for venues to host live music instead of pokies, through late trading allowances and reduced avenues for noise complaints against music venues,” said Mr. Byrne.
Queensland has had a similar scheme in place since 2006, but under the motion passed by council, Enmore road would become the first Special Entertainment Precinct in NSW.
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 declaration gives venues incentives like extended trading hours and less onerous noise management conditions. It also passes the power of dealing with noise complaints over to council, as opposed to the Liquor and Gaming authority.
“Mitigated not litigated”
Mr. Byrne says the declaration complements the councils “Good Neighbour policy,” which requires all noise and amenity complaints about pubs, clubs and small bars to be “mitigated not litigated.”
“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.”
Unsurprisingly, Century Venues, the owners of Enmore Theatre, has welcomed the news. They say it will not only be good for their business but also the broader night-time economy.
“The designation of the Enmore Theatre as an entertainment precinct under the new legislation is a great step forward not just for us at Century Venues but the entire live performance sector,” Century Venues Executive Director, Greg Khoury, said.
“No other night time business generates greater economic flow-on effects to communities than live performance spaces.”
The Enmore road Special Entertainment Precinct declaration is just one of many moves designed to reignite the Inner West’s live music scene post COVID-19.
Earlier this year, council scrapped the need to submit a development application to hold live music and art events in shopfronts, offices and industrial premises.