Victorian Planning Minister Says Noise Reforms Are Imminent

Victorian Minister for Planning Matthew Guy has said that the “Agent of Change Principle,” which would protect established live music venues from noise complaints issued by new residents, will be implemented well before the upcoming election, offering a timeframe of “six or seven weeks.”

During the final sitting of parliament for 2013, Minister Guy was emphatic about rescuing Melbourne’s live music scene from increasingly troublesome noise complaints affecting venues like The Bendigo Hotel, who last year faced court over the complaints of one local resident.

“We will do this because no other government in Victoria has had the guts to do this,” said Minister Guy. “Whether it is at the Palace or other live music venues, Mr [Edward] O’Donohue [the Minister for Liquor and Gaming Regulation] and I will do that work over the summer period and the coming weeks to ensure that live music remains one of Melbourne’s great assets.”

However the Agent of Change principle, which would place the costly onus of soundproofing new properties near live music venues on the developers instead of longtime venue owners, was conspicuously missing from a series of red-tape reforms issued by the government last week. But Minister Guy has now said that the implementation of Agent of Change is imminent.

“We are looking at implementing the Agent of Change Principle well before the election in seven months, it’ll be more like six or seven weeks. It needs to be signed off and gazetted,” Minister Guy told Rock City, as reported by News Limited. He added that residents should adjust expectations.

“I live on a street in Preston with a live music venue six doors up and I accept that there’s noise. It’s a part of life. If you move near Melbourne Airport you’ll expect airport noise,” he said. Many of the noise complaints affecting venue owners have come from residents new to the area.

“You can’t try and close down live music venues after moving into the city. I hope the City of Yarra takes advice from the City of Melbourne. There’s no use blaming the operators or the police, these people knew there was [a venue] near their house when they moved in. There’s 4.5 million in the city, if you don’t like noise, don’t move to the inner city,” said Minister Guy.

“We will do a Planning Scheme Amendment which will cover a number of councils when it’s ready and it will be a regulatory change,” he said of the reform. “I’m expecting a brief of the details in the next few days to make sure it’s right. I’m going to sit down with Ed O’Donohue and go through it.”

But the plan does not include all of Victoria, with Minister Guy explaining that including rural councils would be inefficient. “We are looking at a local, not a state-wide plan, there’s no use having [Agent of Change] in the Alpine Shire council or the Wimmera, it’s for urban councils,” he said.

Speaking on the proposed changes to the site of the Palace Theatre, he said, “I’ve said I’d love to see a W Hotel in Melbourne but the proposal being put forward was off kilter for that site. We want the restrictions to be adhered to. I don’t want another Windsor Hotel debacle.”

Meanwhile Save Live Australian Music (SLAM) co-founder Helen Marcou, who’s been critical of a plan restricted to local councils, will meet with Minister Guy and “the policy team from the Live Music Roundtable” next week to discuss the proposed changes.

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