Licensed venues and commercial premises

Licensed venues and commercial premises

Noise controls

Licensed premises, entertainment venues and commercial operations can create unwanted noise outside business hours. However, these businesses are subject to controls.

Noisy characteristics of licensed premises and some business operations need to be balanced with the existing noise environment of an area. Within the City of Sydney this is achieved by requiring venues to operate under development conditions of consent that limit noise to a prescribed level.

Development conditions of consent are enforceable under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

If noise from a premise is deemed by the City as being offensive it can also be regulated by the City on a person's behalf using the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act).

Licensed premises and entertainment venues

Music and patron noise from restaurants, hotels, entertainment venues and other licensed premises can sometimes reach excessive levels. Conditions of consent are technical in nature and limit the overall level of noise, its frequency characteristics and its effect on both residential and noise sensitive commercial operations.

The City's standard conditions of consent for controlling noise are applicable to most recently approved licensed premises within the City. A non-technical summary of the conditions of consent for noise from licensed premises at neighbouring residential locations is provided below:

  • Background noise is determined from the environmental noise levels at the affected property in the absence of any licensed premises noise.
  • Between 7am and midnight, noise from a licensed venue as measured at the edge of a residential property should not exceed the background noise level by 5 decibels (dB).
  • Between midnight and 7am, noise from a licensed venue as measured at the edge of a residential property should not exceed the background noise level. Additionally, noise should not be audible within any habitable room of the residential premises.
  • Entertainment noise, particularly music can be tonal in nature, therefore applicable limits apply to the frequencies of noise from the licensed premises in relation to those which characterise the background noise of an area.

Some, typically older venues exist under legacy conditions of consent and do not have operational noise limits. However, noise complaints from any premises can be investigated.

If an authorised officer of the City is able to gather appropriate evidence and has assessed the noise as being 'offensive', as defined under the POEO Act, the City may be able to take action on a person's behalf and serve a legal notice to control the noise. Noise emissions from venues operating within their noise conditions of consent would normally not be found as offensive under the POEO Act.

Complaints about anti-social noise

The City does not have the ability to practically regulate anti-social patron noise from licensed premises and entertainment venues. Complaints about patron noise should be directed to Liquor & Gaming NSW.

Complaints about anti-social behaviour from patrons should be directed to NSW Police.

Commercial operations

Typical issues associated with commercial premises include:

  • mechanical and electrical plant
  • forklifts/delivery vehicles
  • loading docks
  • other commercial/process-related noise.

Development conditions of consent for noise are also applicable to most commercial operations within the City of Sydney. The City applies a variety of noise conditions at the planning and development stage to minimise the risk of noise problems developing once a commercial operation has been approved.

Some commercial operations may not have been subject to planning controls or there may be other circumstances leading to a noise nuisance. In such circumstances where the City has been able to gather appropriate evidence and the noise has been assessed as offensive under the definiton of the POEO Act, the City may be able to take action on a person's behalf and serve a legal notice to control the noise.

In most incidences, the City is the appropriate regulatory authority for controlling offensive noise from premises, however, there are some premises or land that due to the property or land ownership, fall outside the City's authority and it is the responsibility of other authorities to regulate. For information on specific circumstances, see the link below, contacts for noise pollution.


Liquor & Gaming NSW: noise complaints Environmental Protection Authority: contacts for noise pollutionEnvironmental Protection Authority: noise regulation in NSW


City of Sydney02 9265 9333

Last updated: Tuesday, 31 May 2016