NSW State Government Backflips on Sunday Construction Noise

Construction noise can be very annoying. With more of us working from home, we can be subjected to construction noise nearly all day. To make matters worse, and due to COVID19 orders, construction during 2020 and mid-2021 was permitted seven days a week (including public holidays).

In May 2021, the COVID19 construction rules were revoked with an effective date of 7th June 2021. Residents breathed a sigh of relief; they had one day a week without noise and dust.

On 10 June 2021, the Minister for Planning, Industry and Environment, Mr Stokes, signed another order permitting “inside construction noise” on Sundays.

UPDATE

On 30 July 2021, the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces signed a new Order, the Environmental Planning and Assessment (COVID-19 Development—Construction Work Days) Order (No 3) 2021 (Order), which allows construction works to occur Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.

 

The new Order follows the recent pause on construction activity, which was necessary to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The Order will ensure the continued safe delivery of new homes, transport, job-generating projects and community facilities. This is necessary to help the industry get back on its feet and support the economy.

 

While the Order extends the days construction work can occur, the industry will still need to adhere to any requirements specified in any orders made under the Public Health Act 2010. If there is an inconsistency between this Order and a public health order, the public health order prevails.

 

The Order seeks to find the right balance between protecting the public health needs of the general community and providing continued support to the building and construction industry, to ensure they can continue operate during the pandemic in accordance with public health requirements and the necessary social distancing and hygiene practices. The Order allows work to be staggered across the week in a way that minimises the risk of workers being affected by COVID-19.

 

Extended construction work days and hours for development authorised under the Infrastructure Construction Work Days Order and Health Services Facilities Order continues as per their respective orders.

 

Background

As part of the NSW Government’s response to COVID19, the NSW Planning Minister on 9 April 2020 made the Environmental Planning and Assessment (COVID-19 Development – Infrastructure Construction Work Days) Order 2020.

This order allowed demolition and construction work to be carried out on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays without any further approval.

The reason for this amendment was to assist with social distancing on construction sites by spreading construction work over seven days and to help stimulate the economy by keeping construction sites working.

COVID19 Construction Noise Order Revoked

In May 2021, the 7 Days a week COVID19 Construction Order was revoked.  Residents were looking forward to 7 June 2021, when the temporary COVID-19 measures allowing Sunday and public holiday construction hours would stop.  Construction would no longer be allowed on Sunday or public holidays unless specifically permitted in a development consent or permitted under certain types of complying development.

 

COVID19 New Construction Order Sunday “Inside Works” Permitted

A new order was issued on 10th June 2021, permitting “inside works” on a Sunday.

A spokesperson for the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment provided ITC with the following comment:

“The new temporary order for construction hours has been introduced to strike the right balance between providing respite for residents while continuing to support a safe and viable construction industry.

Construction activities that result in excessive noise will continue to be restricted on weekends.

Under the new order, work will be allowed on Saturdays from 7 am to 5 pm, except for rock breaking and similar activities. Only quiet works such as carpet laying, painting and safety checks will be permitted on Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm.

No music or radios will be allowed on Sunday, and no work will be allowed on public holidays.

SafeWork NSW will continue to enforce proper practices through warnings and fines.

The new order will remain in place until March 2022.”

A copy of the full order can be viewed here.

One ITC follower received the letter below from the Department on 4th June 2021 – and this letter was out of date a few days later because of the 10th June 2021 Order.

Balance Between Construction Needs and Residents’ Needs

ITC receives many complaints about construction noise, and we are often asked how residents raise issues about excessive noise.  Inside works may lessen some of the noise issues, but there are many other issues that arise from Sunday construction.

Residents have told ITC about their streets being crowded with utes and trucks – meaning visitors can not park close to their homes.  There are also privacy issues, many of the construction sites look straight into a resident’s home, and they want one day a week where they don’t have to close their curtains.  Access to the site can be close to a resident’s home, and this means noise early in the morning when workers access the sites (gates opening and closing, offices being accessed etc.).

What is Lane Cove Council’s Standard Construction Hours?

Houses/Commercial

Lane Cove Council normally imposes the following on Development Applications for general building works.

All demolition, building construction work, including earthworks, deliveries of building materials to and from the site to be restricted to the following hours:

  • Monday to Friday (inclusive) – 7:00am to 5:30pm
  • Saturday – 7:00am to 4:00pm

No work to be carried out on Sundays or any public holidays.

Apartments

During the construction of the numerous apartments along Mowbray Road, the Lane Cove Council introduced new restrictions for Apartment Developers.  In particular, certain construction work is not permitted on Saturdays.

All demolition, building construction work, including earthworks, deliveries of building materials to and from the site is restricted as follows:-

  • Monday to Friday (inclusive) – 7:00am to 5:30pm
  • Saturday  – 8:00 am to 12noon with no excavation, haulage truck movement, rock picking, sawing, jackhammering or pile driving to be undertaken. 

No work to be carried out on Sundays or any public holidays. Note the NSW State Government order has now overridden this.

Note: This includes the delivery of materials.  Over the years In the Cove has been alerted to numerous incidents of vehicles idling outside a development site before the permitted time.

Who Do I Contact If Work is Outside the Permitted Hours?

If work starts before permitted hours or continues after hours or you believe the noise is excessive, your first call should be to the Lane Cove Council. Next, you should call the Lane Cove Council on  9911 3555 and ask for a Ranger to attend the site.

If you live in Lane Cove North and you are part of the Willougby Council, you can contact  Willoughby City Council on 9777 1000 or [email protected].

Local councils are responsible for enforcing the relevant conditions of consent and monitoring compliance with noise restrictions.

State Infrastructure Development

If you live near a construction site like a Metro site, different rules apply. Construction works can take place on Sundays and Public Holidays.  You can view the Infrastructure Construction Work Days Order and Health Services Facilities Order on the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment website.

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