Rules toned down

BARS and clubs in the Northbridge will be allowed to keep rocking at a “common-sense” noise level of 95 decibels, staving off a proposed rule that’d limit them to emitting a much-meeker 90 decibels. 

The decibel scale is quirky and there’s a big difference between just five decibels, with 90dB being about as loud as a shouting match and 95dB being more in motorbike territory.

As part of a long-running state government-led effort to protect music venues from potential noise complaints once more residents move into the city, Perth council staff had suggested 90db as a fair compromise between bands continuing to rock out at acceptable levels and future residents not being blasted into ill-health en masse.

But 90dB was deemed unworkable by the bar-owning members of the Australian Hotels Association WA. Sixty per cent of their members are already pumping out sounds above 90dB and would have to immediately invest in expensive soundproofing if that limit went through. 

AHAWA also pointed out that in recent years noise complaints were actually pretty rare in Northbridge compared to other suburbs and other cities.

At the December 13 council meeting lord mayor Basil Zempilas moved the council bump the limit up to 95dB and got unanimous support from councillors.

“We heard consistently… 90dB is too low for the venues,” Mr Zempilas said. “Ninety five decibels is a workable compromise.”

AHAWA CEO Bradley Woods welcomed the decision, issuing a statement saying “we now have a solution that recognises the importance of protecting the hospitality industry, which has long played a critical role in Northbridge.

“Residents who live or move into Northbridge do so with the knowledge that it is a vibrant entertainment precinct and that there will inevitably be noise. This is evidenced by the very low number of noise complaints in Northbridge that the City of Perth receives each year.”

The council’s new policy now has to be sent off to the state government for final approval. As part of the proposed changes new residential buildings will have to be stuffed with noise-cancelling technology. 

by DAVID BELL

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