The woman that lodged the official complaint was one of a number of residents that overlook the Hotel, on Newcastle’s King Street. The tenant, who did not own an apartment in the modern Civic Square building, has since moved.
The noise complaint stressed that the volume from the courtyard was “affecting mental health” of the complainant, who first contacted police.
“The police came to see us, and we gave them our phone number and asked her to call if she had a problem again,” hotel owner Steve Hunt told PubTIC.
Although a call was never received, the complaint was formally lodged with authorities and the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) were forced to investigate.
The original complainant, a government employee who no longer lives at the address, passed the baton to another resident, including footage of the empty courtyard, with music playing at reasonably high volume.
But the main problem was seen to be Friday and Saturday nights, when the Hotel sometimes uses a projector to display football or other sporting matches on one of its walls, to a typically packed crowd.
An initial ruling that patrons were not to occupy the area after 9pm was overturned on egress and safety grounds. The ruling has since been modified to say no patrons in the courtyard after 10pm – despite it being the designated exit to the hotel’s carpark.
Hunt questioned the rulings, on the grounds that the 1800s hotel was doing what it does long before the 10-year-old apartments.
The NSW Liquor Act covers such issues, and imposes an obligation upon the decision-maker in disturbance complaints to consider the “order of occupancy” between the licensed venue and complainant(s).
A case in 2010 threw out complaints against Wollongong’s Hotel Illawarra, where structures converted to residences within 150 metres were dismissed from consideration in the complaint against the hotel.
Ironically, the source of that particular complaint was subsequently found in breach of sound-proofing conditions for developments in commercial buildings converted to residential.
“The Police and ILGA have been excellent,” continued Hunt.
“We chatted to them about addressing the situation, but there’s only so much you can if people don’t like the sound of social excitement, when a try is scored or wicket taken.
“The body corporate says they have no issue with us, and some senior residents often come down for a drink.”
In more positive news, Hunt also hinted he is close to taking the reins at another hotel in the region – one he says is “in a good, growing area” with several thousand residences slated for construction.
PubTIC will no doubt report all the noise from that when the time comes.