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Noise in the city

Residential noise

Noise can come from a range of residential activities, such as parties, renovations, appliances, air conditioning and pets.

The Environmental Protection Act states that it is an offence to cause unreasonable noise from any residential premises. Noise may be considered unreasonable depending on several factors including volume, time of day, and intensity of duration. Visit EPA Victoria to find out more about residential noise regulations.

The best way to deal with a noisy neighbour is to approach them and work together to settle the problem. If this does not work it may be appropriate to Make a noise complaint.

Waste collection

One of the major concerns associated with waste collection is the impact of noise on residents.

If waste collection activities are waking you up during the night regularly, Council recommends you contact the waste company directly to let them know that their activities are disturbing you.

If you are not comfortable contacting the company directly or do not know who to call, you can Make a noise complaint. An environmental health officer will discuss your circumstances and advise you of the appropriate action. 

Entertainment venues

Melbourne has one of Australia’s best night scenes and Council wants to continue to promote the vibrancy of Melbourne as a 24-hour city. Some venues have been in operation for many years. However, a balance is needed between the expectations of residents to have a good night’s sleep and the ability of the venue to run a successful business.

If you are affected, approach the venue operator/manager and let them know that noise from their business is affecting you. All premises that are licensed to serve alcohol are obliged to respond quickly and positively to resolve complaints with neighbours.They may be unaware and could put in place simple measures to reduce or eliminate the noise.

The Victoria Police have power under the Environment Protection Act 1970 to instruct a venue to abate any entertainment noise after midnight. These directions stay in force until 8am.

Planning enforcement officers at Council under the Planning and Environment Act 1987, can also investigate to determine if there is a breach of the Planning Permit and or Planning Scheme.

Check Consumer Affairs for details of the venue’s liquor licence at Victorian Commission of Gambling and Liquor Regulation. Conditions on a liquor license must be adhered to at all times.

If you are an established resident and a proposal to operate an entertainment venue near your home has been lodged you can voice your concerns to Council’s planning department as part of the planning process, or to Liquor Licensing Victoria when the business applies for a liquor licence.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria developed the State environment protection policy (Control of music noise from public premises, No N-2). While not directly enforceable as legislation, noise requirements based on this policy are often included in a venue's liquor licence or planning permit.

Industry noise

Industry noise includes noise from machinery, air conditioners and commercial premises.

If you are disturbed by noise from a commercial site, speak to the person that is causing the noise as soon as the problem arises.

If this does not resolve the matter, you may need to Make a noise complaint.

When you make a complaint, an environmental health officer will speak with you and investigate where appropriate. In order for Council to take steps to reduce the noise, a pattern of disturbance needs to be established.

Where appropriate, industry noise can be assessed using the Victorian Environment Protection Policy (Control of Noise from Commerce, Industry and Trade) No N-1. The policy aims to protect people from the effects of noise. New and proposed industries should be designed to be within the policy’s noise limits.

There are a number of industrial noise sources that are not within the jurisdiction of Council. These include public transport, gasworks, road works and some major development sites.

Building sites 

Development is a fundamental part of the City of Melbourne’s urban environment, but construction works need to be controlled so they don’t become a nuisance for those who live in, work in or visit our city.

Council’s Activities Local Law 2009 has provisions that aim to improve the amenity of the municipality by minimising nuisances caused by building works. Nuisances include noise, dust, vibrations, obstructions to pedestrians or traffic and conditions that pose a risk to public safety.

Prescribed hours

Building works are only permitted only at certain times. Within the City of Melbourne, the prescribed hours under Council's Activity Local Law is restricted to the following:

Major building construction sites
Monday to Friday: 7am to 7pm
Saturday: 8am to 3pm

Owner builder (do–it–yourself) on a single dwelling or unit
Monday to Friday: 7am to 7pm
Saturday: 8am to 6pm
Sundays: 9am to 6pm

Sunday restrictions for owner builders
The use of air or gas compressors, pneumatic power tools including hammer and any other impact tools or grinding equipment for building work, without a permit, is prohibited on Sundays.

Minor works pertaining to owner builders
Minor building work on a dwelling outside the specified hours is permitted, subject to the works not exceeding an acceptable sound level as determined by an authorised officer. The use of any equipment/ tools as specified above is also prohibited under these circumstances.

Failure to comply with the requirements of this local law will result in penalties and fines being issued by the City of Melbourne.

Permission to work outside the prescribed hours
Anyone wanting to carry out building works outside the prescribed times needs an out of hours permit from the City of Melbourne’s Construction Management Group.

Minimum two days' notice is required before a permit can be issued, dependent on the extent of the work. For application forms and further information, see Building permits.

Tips for reducing building noise

  • Check with Council to ensure your hours of operation comply with building permit conditions.
  • Do noisy work at times that least affect neighbours.
  • Enclose noisy equipment or place sound barriers between the noise source and the neighbours.
  • Fit and maintain mufflers on equipment and vehicles.
  • Organise site deliveries for times that have minimal impact on neighbours and other local traffic.
  • Erect signs to inform people when to expect noise and provide an all-hours contact number.
  • Respond promptly to noise complaints.
  • Seek the quietest option when buying new equipment.  
  • Work as far away as possible from sensitive areas such as bedroom windows. 
  • Service your equipment regularly. Lack of maintenance can cause higher noise levels.
  • Install an acoustic enclosure for fixed equipment such as compressors or vacuum equipment. 
  • Modify equipment. Discuss this option with the manufacturer or installer.
  • If noisy work is planned, such as jack hammering, concrete cutting and pouring, discuss this with neighbours beforehand. A notice on site or distribution of leaflets explaining the hours and duration of operation may help prevent complaints.

Building site noise complaints

If you are experiencing noise from demolition or construction activities, speak to the owner/site supervisor as soon as the problem arises, expressing your case honestly and respectfully.

In many instances, they are unaware that they are causing a problem and will quickly remedy the situation.

However, if this does not resolve the problem you may contact the council's Construction Management Group on 03 9658 9100 or Make a noise complaint.

In most cases a building officer will visit the site to determine if a breach of the Activities Local Law 1999 has occurred and what action should occur as a result.

Inner city buildings