Rebuild proving to be a noisy business

22:17, Jul 22 2014

The story of the Christchurch rebuild can be told in noise complaints.

Party noise complaints nearly tripled from 2010 to 2011, but have since dropped off and been replaced by complaints about noise from new bars and rebuild construction.

Analysis of noise complaint data from 2010 to the present shows the changing social scene of post-quake Christchurch and the accelerating pace of the rebuild.


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The Christchurch City Council received 360 complaints about noisy parties in 2010, but this rose to 804 in 2011 after the February quake put clubs and bars out of action.

Sergeant Jeremy Sidell of the Police Support Unit said they were "extremely busy with parties" after the February earthquakes.

"There was a problem with open Facebook pages where people would naively advertise a party and it would go viral exponentially and it would explode. Thirty people would be invited and 150 people would turn up," he said.

"We were extremely busy with parties. No doubt some of that can be attributed to the closure of some bars. But this summer we haven't experienced as high a number of calls as previous years."

Sidell said police had worked with the University of Canterbury Students' Association to prevent out-of-control parties. A new online party register, called Good One, means hosts can make police aware they are having a party.

Sidell said police often visited hosts ahead of any party and on the night to check there were no problems.

"Before, we were responding to parties on the night. We would find out on the night that they were happening. At that stage it was at a point where it was hard to go in and mitigate risk and control it.

"If we are not busy we will pop over during the course of the night if we have time to see how it is progressing."

Party noise complaints declined to 767 in 2012 and 348 in 2013 as more bars and clubs reopened. But the number of total complaints did not fall. Instead, complaints about party noise were replaced with ones about construction noise and gigs at newly opened venues.

A council spokesman said temporary and transitional venues added to the number of noise complaints about gigs and concerts.

"We think that rise is clearly because a lot of new venues are now opening up. There are a number of new destinations for people now," he said.

"The complaints have moved from the suburbs to traditional venues."

Construction noise complaints rose from 124 in 2011 to 463 in 2013, while complaints about bands, concerts and PAs rose from 523 in 2011 to 882 in 2013.

The Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (SCIRT), which is in charge of pipe and road repairs, receives complaints about noise from piling, pumping engines and sucker trucks.

SCIRT general manager Duncan Gibb said noise control measures were used on pumps operating overnight in residential areas.

About 44 per cent of work is complete across the city, while about 68 per cent of work is complete in the city centre, he said.

The Press