By Erika Echternach
As Double Bay continues to develop into a late night hub, Council officials are taking strides to manage noise levels within the Double Bay commercial centre.
Susan Wynne, the deputy mayor of the Woollahra Municipal Council, said the Council has been working with local businesses, Liquor and Gaming and Eastern Beaches Local Area Command to address a recent influx of residents’ complaints regarding excess noise.
Double Bay residents have been adapting to a shift in the area’s nightlife ever since lockout laws were initiated in Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross, pushing the late night social scene to fringe suburbs, including Double Bay.
Shortly after the lockout laws went into effect, Double Bay venue operators reported a noticeable increase of people and taxis in the area after 1:30 am Because the CBD and Kings Cross could no longer be relied on for late night entertainment, people stopped exiting Double Bay in search of a good time and started creating their own party right where they were.
While this sudden surplus of patrons benefitted local businesses and boosted the night time economy, Double Bay’s residents were less welcoming toward the changes occurring in their suburb.
Most of the residents’ grievances stem from very late night and early morning trade waste and recycling collections from the local pubs and clubs. Another source of disturbance has been loud patrons causing a commotion around closing time.
Karl McPhee, a long time resident of the Double Bay area, said he doesn’t like hearing the loud, carousing patrons as they leave the bars at night and considers any measures taken to keep them quiet good.
“Can’t see why residents should put up with any loud behaviour at all,” Mr McPhee said.
To address these issues, the Council has requested that trade waste contractors do not permit collections to take place before 7 am on weekdays and 8 am on weekends, Cr Wynne said.
Additionally, Council members have met with some of the licensed premises operators throughout the last two weeks and made them aware of their DA consent conditions.
“They know we are monitoring what’s going on and we are going to give them the chance to make the changes we expect,” Cr Wynne said. “Enforcement will be the next step if they don’t comply and as a result, we’re confident they understand our expectations.”
This week the Council is conferring with noise monitoring consultants to gain information on the impact the noise is having on the community, Cr Wynne said.
This newly instated monitoring of the late night noise production is intended to serve as a compromise between Double Bay’s residents’ needs and the suburb’s thriving nightlife.
Cr Wynne is being careful to take the necessary steps to preserve the best of both these worlds.
“Double Bay is an exciting place to visit day and night and as the deputy mayor I want to see it remain as a ‘must visit’ destination for Sydneysiders and international visitors as well as being a wonderful place for locals to enjoy a night out,” Cr Wynne said.
Considering the spark that set off Double Bay’s nightlife, instituting similarly overbearing regulations to dampen both the noise level and the night time economy would seem unwise, especially if the driving threat of alcohol-fuelled crime spikes is absent, which seems to be the case.
Although Double Bay’s recently revitalised nightlife has come with a small increase in crime rates, the area still has the lowest rate per capita of non-domestic assaults when compared with the surrounding suburbs, as recorded in the latest NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research report.
As demonstrated by the original lockout laws, instituting stifling restrictions in Double Bay could lead its newfound vibrant nightlife to an early grave, perpetuating Sydney’s lack of late night options.
Double Bay did openly warn residents of the possible impending changes when the lockout laws first began. When the area’s business started picking up in response to the laws, Lesli Berger, the then deputy chair of Double Bay Chamber of Commerce was reported to have called for “tolerance” from Double Bay’s residents as their homes became more bustling.
But Cr Wynne acknowledged that a truly successful commercial centre depends on its residential community for economic viability and social and cultural vitality and expressed her desire to see Double Bay continue to develop as a place in which both could thrive.
“We love the vibrancy of Double Bay’s pubs and restaurants and we need to balance the benefits they bring with the fact that people also live in the commercial centre and deserve a decent night’s sleep,” Cr Wynne said. “I am confident we can work with the local businesses and residents towards a better outcome for everyone.”
However, that is a difficult balance to strike and Double Bay may eventually be forced to decide whether it wishes to realise its potential to be Sydney’s most popular party and dining district or remain a sleeping giant.