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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 12 February 2015) . . Page.. 259 ..

This issue was raised by me in January 2009, just a couple of months after coming into this place, when I raised concerns about a 15-apartment complex constructed on the foreshore of Lake Ginninderra. I was concerned at the time—and those concerns have eventuated in part—that the noise from surrounding venues, most notably the Lighthouse Pub, may well impact the quality of life for the adjacent apartments and that the noise produced at the pub may well be in breach of the existing regulations as administered by the EPA.

Whilst the regulations are in place for a reason, the pub has been there in one form or another for many years, so it seemed to me to be a concern for that small business and surrounding businesses that their ongoing practice could be restricted because of a new DA which was granted next door. Order of occupancy rules may well have helped to prevent the situation where the pub would have to alter its way of doing business, but also they would have served as a good information mechanism for future occupants of the apartment building next door, advising that, if they moved there, they would have to expect a certain level of noise and a certain level of activity, which is, in part, the attraction of living in that place anyway.

Order of occupancy rules are in place in other jurisdictions. They mean that noise and other issues are considered before approving new developments rather than after they are already built. Not only do order of occupancy rules prevent issues between different users but they also provide certainty. Certainty in planning would also be achieved if designated entertainment zones were established. If potential residents are aware that noise levels are likely to be higher in certain zones, they can make an informed decision about whether to live there or not. If they choose to live in an entertainment zone, they can expect access to more facilities but will have to accept slightly higher noise levels.

Indeed, it works the other way around as well. If a residential area has been established and an entertainment venue opens up nearby, as the original occupants the residents would have a fair case to say that the noise from the new establishment is not in keeping with the area.

As Mr Rattenbury flagged, there are some potential issues with order of occupancy legislation, and it may well restrict any evolution of various areas. But I believe they can be managed with an appropriate policy.

Acoustic insulation is a common-sense way to ensure that entertainment venues and residential properties can co-exist. If developers want to build properties close to entertainment areas, they could be encouraged to ensure that they are fit for purpose. There really is no excuse for poorly insulated properties. Quite frankly, I believe the market is doing a pretty good job of meeting this demand at present.

The risk of disturbance to residents of poorly insulated properties is high. Residents who are disturbed by noise are more likely to make complaints and, therefore, take more resources from the government, especially by way of the EPA. Builders should do what they can to minimise the impact of live music on residents, especially when that is the intended purpose of a development. I also note that reasonable noise attenuation should be provided by venues intending to host live music and community events, especially if they are in areas they share with residents.

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