Noise rules shake-up for music venues

Promoters say developers must do more. Picture: Greg Macvean

Promoters say developers must do more. Picture: Greg Macvean

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A MAJOR shake-up of city noise rules could see developers forced to foot the bill for soundproofing new properties built next to live music venues.

Council chiefs are set to enter into talks with the Scottish Government about adopting the so-called “agent of change” principle – already in force in Australia and backed by music industry bosses.

It means the onus to take action is on the party bringing change to an area.

Homes built next to existing venues will be made to shoulder the responsibility for soundproofing. However, if a new venue opens in residential areas, it will have to stump up.

Under current rules, the business or person making the noise is always required to address the issue.

The proposals come after a music industry summit at the Usher Hall in November saw culture chiefs promise to ­revitalise the Capital’s flagging gig circuit by tackling stringent noise rules.

Musicians and promoters lashed out at regulations dictating “amplified music and vocals” at venues be inaudible to neighbouring properties – claiming they stifled the city’s live music scene. And ­councillor Norma Austin Hart, vice-convenor for culture, admitted at the meeting that the current stand-off between the council and venue operators “couldn’t continue” and pledged to set up a working group to move the issue on.

Former Simple Minds manager Bruce Findlay said plans to adopt the agent of change principle made “complete sense”. He said: “If you are living next to a theatre or a place of ­entertainment, you have to accept an element of noise.

“The idea of soundproofing a venue is a red herring, because the big problem of venues is not the noise the venue makes – it’s the noise of the public coming and going that people complain about.

“With a new ­development of housing going up next to a venue, the onus should be on the developer to soundproof it.

“A developer should be well aware of what they are building next to, and they should tell the people living in these properties what they are moving in next to.”

Nick Stewart, manager of Cowgate hotspot Sneaky Pete’s, said the idea had the “unanimous” support of the city’s live music sector.

He said: “I think most of the people in the music ­business are supportive of this, and what we know from the model in Australia is that it seems to work so far.

“Rock ‘n’ roll is very good for the economy. In Britain, people think of The Beatles or the Rolling Stones. It’s one of our leading cultural exports.”

A council spokeswoman said: “The council responds to all noise complaints we receive and noise conditions are attached to premise licences to help prevent disruption to neighbouring properties.

“We consult with the Licensing Board, venues and local residents to ensure these conditions are reasonable and effective.”