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Live music banned, outdoor seating restricted at the Eveleigh Hotel

The local Inner West pub has been targeted by severe restrictions following noise complaints from residents.

The Eveleigh Hotel, a local pub on Abercrombie Street, has been the recent target of severe restrictions by the City of Sydney Council after several noise complaints were made. 

The restrictions target the supposedly unruly patrons and overly loud music coming from the pub. The result has been a ban on all live music at the pub, heavy restrictions on outdoor seating, and a mandate for costly renovations to reduce noise leakage. 

Recent complaints about alleged disruptive behaviour from patrons have meant that the Eveleigh is now on its final warning from the Council. The pub is at risk of closure, with many of the staff feeling uncertain and anxious about their employment.

The type of music played at the Eveleigh is generally light jazz with a small ensemble — a far cry from the “loud music” that would warrant such noise complaints. Further, they only play until 7pm on Saturdays — a very respectable time to be hosting live music on a weekend. 

The Eveleigh is one of the few pubs in Sydney without gambling machines, and has been so for over a decade. The pub is also one of the remaining few within the Inner West that is independently owned,  meaning that the Eveleigh still retains its historical charm, family-friendly character, and an authentic sense of the community that gathers there. 

Especially in the face of both major parties proposing to reduce and replace pokies in pubs with live music, these restrictions can make these campaign pitches have less weight, and could make voters wonder if these ideas even are possible in the face of disgruntled NIMBYs with too much time on their hands. 

Vice-President and Chair of the Representative Council of the Conservatorium Students’ Association (CSA) Isabella Chiper said to Honi, “these restrictions devastatingly limit the visibility of musicians that are already neglected by the industry. Sydney’s independent artists must mobilise in order to ensure that their voices aren’t, quite literally, silenced.”

In a statement to several City of Sydney councillors and local MPs expressing concern over these restrictions, the CSA noted “[that] jazz music as a genre is incredibly live and intimate (…) that’s what makes it special.

“We understand that residents want a peaceful and calm space in their own homes, but calling light music that ends at 7pm, particularly on a weekend, as being untoward to the residents of the area is something we simply cannot accept.” 

When approached for comment, a City of Sydney spokesperson told Honi, “In August 2022, City staff began working with the Eveleigh Hotel to reduce noise impacts from patrons, as well as amplified and live music. We made several attempts to resolve the issue with the owner by suggesting potential solutions, including relocating the band, removing or relocating speakers and laying thick sound absorbing carpet. Such measures were suggested so that the provision of live music could continue.   

Our attempts to resolve the noise issue through this voluntary process over the last six months had been unsuccessful, so the City recently advised the Hotel more formal action may be taken. The Hotel responded by installing a noise limiting device and committing to engage an acoustic specialist, remove or relocate a speaker, lay carpet and underlay and install acoustic panels. No enforcement action will be taken by the City while these mitigation measures are installed and reviewed.”

An online petition by the Eveleigh calling on the City of Sydney Council to reverse the restrictions has received 2100 signatures at the time of publication. This would mean a return of modest live music on Saturday afternoons, and 9 people on 3 outdoor tables until 9pm. 

In the long term, the CSA is calling for a more robust system of protections for local venues against petty complaints by individuals, alongside the development of “a map of live music venues, and their required rules, developed in consultation with local musicians and the venues.”

The Eveleigh has also called for a Good Neighbour Policy, as implemented by the Inner West Council, to be adopted by the City of Sydney Council. This would allow for Council-facilitated mediation rather than immediate legal action, ensuring the longevity of live music venues.