Mandurah mayor voices concerns, calls on state government to change noise restrictions

The mayor of Mandurah has called on the state government to change local noise regulations after new reforms were drawn up last month to protect and grow Western Australia's nightlife.

Described by the City of Mandurah as "extremely onerous", the State Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997 that control local venues are set by the state government and monitored by local councils.

However, new planning and environmental reforms to support the music industry will pave the way for the state's first 'special entertainment precincts'.

Designating an area as a 'special entertainment precinct' will help provide better protection for entertainment venues and clear and consistent guidelines for new developments.

Earlier this year, the Mandurah Mail reported on the lack of live music in the city centre, with conversation about how to encourage entertainment growth including plans to relax noise restrictions.

Business owners involved in Mandurah's hospitality industry spoke out about the "ridiculous" noise regulations preventing them from hosting live music shows and therefore threatening the vibrant arts and culture scene.

I don't believe the current noise regulations provide enough flexibility to achieve the right balance in entertainment precincts like ours.

Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams

While Perth's nightlife centre of Northbridge has been chosen as the first 'special entertainment precinct', Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams said he would fight for the classification to also be applied to Mandurah.

"I wrote to the state government earlier in the year asking for their consideration for Mandurah being a trial site for a special entertainment precinct, but unfortunately the request was declined," he said.

"We have great local musicians and excellent venue operators who would love to be part of taking our local music scene to the next level.

"It's something Mandurah could really become known for and we'll keep looking for ways to be able to assist in fostering this culture.

"I hope that at some stage that includes a change to the noise regulations by the state government."

Mr Williams said he was pleased to see the regulations under review but hoped it would result in an exclusion zone in Mandurah to help drive a better live music scene.

"I don't believe the current noise regulations provide enough flexibility to achieve the right balance in entertainment precincts like ours," he said.

"The current one-size-fits-all approach is restrictive and is a barrier for creating the type of city centre vibrancy that you see in other parts of the world.

"Other places seem to manage the balance without the sky falling in and I don't see why the same can't be achieved here if we just take a common sense approach."

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Mandurah MP and Minister for Culture and the Arts David Templeman said the issue of noise restraints would be one the local and state government would have to work together on.

"It will be a decision for the City of Mandurah and local residents to decide if there are areas of Mandurah suitable to be designated as a special entertainment precinct," he said.

Mr Templeman said Northbridge was chosen because it was identified by the City of Perth as "the state's premier entertainment precinct".

"It has a mix of land uses and is likely to result in increased noise complaints," he said.

It will be a decision for the City of Mandurah and local residents to decide if there are areas of Mandurah suitable to be designated as a special entertainment precinct.

Mandurah MP David Templeman

"The McGowan government is committed to exploring reforms that aim to support existing music venues and WA's cultural industries that create employment opportunities, particularly for young West Australians.

"The music industry contributes significantly to a growing WA night time economy. Establishments like hotels, taverns and nightclubs represent 16 per cent of all businesses in WA."

In an interview with the Mandurah Mail earlier in the year, Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said he was aware that conflicts associated with noise restrictions existed in a number of other entertainment precincts.

"If the roll-out of the Northbridge reforms is successful, consideration may be given at a later stage to expanding the changes to other areas," he said.

The reforms aim to meet the needs of residents, businesses and the wider community and will help to improve theway noise in entertainment precincts is managed by protecting venues from overly strict rules.

These reforms are about making sure we support the vibrant areas and venues that make our city fun.

Planning Minister Rita Saffioti

Planning Minister Rita Saffioti said entertainment venues located near residential areas were finding it increasingly difficult to comply with current noise regulations.

"These reforms are about making sure we support the vibrant areas and venues that make our city fun," she said.

"I'm pleased to reach this stage of planning reform that will deliver real outcomes to support entertainment districts.

"New planning policy will apply to entertainment areas, with Northbridge set to be the first area to benefit from this special entertainment precinct classification."

The reforms include a draft Western Australian Planning Commission position statement and proposed amendments to the Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997.

The documents were informed by a public consultation paper and community engagement undertaken last year.

The draft planning policy and environmental legislation is now open for public comment. For more information, or to have your say, visit the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage website or the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation website.