Report unwanted noise from licensed venues and commercial premises

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

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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.

Our standard conditions of consent for controlling noise apply to most recently approved licensed premises within the City of Sydney local area. 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.
  • From 7am to midnight, noise from a licensed venue as measured at the edge of a residential property shouldn’t exceed the background noise level by 5 decibels (dB).
  • From midnight to 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. 

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 also apply to most commercial operations within the City of Sydney local area. We apply 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 we have been able to gather appropriate evidence and the noise has been assessed as offensive under the definition of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act, we may be able to take action on a person's behalf and serve a legal notice to control the noise.