Entertainment is only mandatory for licensees and approved managers with a “commercial other subsidiary on-premises licence” where the principal activity is the provision of entertainment. Other licensees may conduct entertainment as long as it does not create a noise nuisance.
Unless an acoustics report is able to demonstrate that the building can contain a higher level of sound, all licences will have a standard condition limiting noise to no more than 75dB(c). This is equivalent to the soft background music encountered at a restaurant or café.
Outdoor eating and modern décor including wooden floors, metallic surfaces and fittings, present new challenges for operators. These elements only magnify noise for local residents.
Over the past few years, there have been at least two restaurants well established as BYO which have been refused liquor licences because of local noise problems. Operators need to be well aware that sometimes it is the noise of cutlery on plates or chairs scraping on wooden floors that cause neighbourhood tension at quiet times of the night. Therefore, the addition of entertainment can result in immediate noise complaints.
In country areas, the noise nuisance often stems from open windows and doors for air flow, as a building may not be air-conditioned.
The Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation will assist in providing general advice to reduce noise issues in and around licensed venues. However, the ultimate responsibility for minimising noise rests with the licensee, and action will be taken if the nuisance continues.
We have already discussed that licensees are responsible for the noise emanating from:
- Entertainment at the venue
- Patrons at the venue
- Patrons entering or leaving the premises
- Motors such as air conditioning units and generators used for their business.