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Inner city noise is a major headache for some tenants

Feb 16th, 2011 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Lead Story, News


CITY LIVING: Higher levels in inner city.


NOISE complaints are rising 3% a year in central Wellington as apartment dwellers take issue with music, partying and construction work.

People living in the city centre are complaining about unwanted noise at a rate of 480-600 incidents a year, according to the Wellington City Council compliance manager.

Matthew Borich, who monitors adherence to planning rules, says the inner city makes up about 8% to 10% of total complaints and there is a trend of a 3% annual rise.

Complaints usually relate to stereos, central area bars, and noise from construction including road works, Mr Borich says.

A four-storey building in Cuba St recently had major problems with air-conditioning units creating noise at night keeping tenants awake.  These units are not a common cause of noise complaints.

Mr Borich says there should be general acceptance by inner-city dwellers that they are in a high noise area, but if a person has a noise problem they should still have the right to complain.

Central-city noise limits are higher than those in residential areas. The inner city has a general noise activity level of 60 decibels and a maximum of 85 decibels, while residential areas have a maximum of 65 decibels.

Mr Borich says an increase of 10 decibels means a noise sounds twice as loud to the human ear.

The council investigates all noise complaints, about 6000 a year in Wellington.

“Some of these complaints can be resolved at the time. However, some of the complaints require noise measurement,” he says.

Complaints are received from a diverse group of people in the city so the complainants are not usually regulars.

“A person will normally complain until their issue is resolved or they are informed that the noise level complies.”

About 35% of complaints require formal enforcement action such as notices, but very few end up in court.

He says for excessive noise like parties and stereo noise, officers have to investigate in the first instance. They call police only for breaches of a noise direction notice, when a seizure of noise equipment is proposed.

He has a team of 16 compliance officers which include three environmental noise officers, plus an external contractor for excessive noise.

New or newly renovated buildings must be constructed according to the District Plan and have a much higher standard of sound insulation than an average residential dwelling.

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