“We feel an incredible sense of injustice, not only of the outcome, but due to the process that we have put through.”
Popular Melbourne floating nightclub venue ATET has been put through the wringer since opening in October.
The city’s first-ever game-changing, floating, open-air club and event space, situated in the Docklands precinct, has already faced noise complaints and a devastating blaze that ripped through the venue.
And now, ATET needs saving after the City of Melbourne decided to terminate ATET’s Crown Land Licence, forcing the space into closure only eight months after launching.
Venue owner Jake Hughes has expressed his despair at the situation, writing on a Change.org petition, “We feel an incredible sense of injustice, not only of the outcome, but due to the process that we have put through.”
For Hughes and the team, the main point of contention in the petition is that the EPA allegedly didn’t hand the investigative report on ATET breaking noise limits to the owners for ten weeks.
Waiting for the report and submitting the venue’s long-term solutions, the City of Melbourne council quickly terminated ATET’s licence. Hughes believes “they were determined to terminate our licence regardless of what we put forward.”
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ATET owners had been waiting from November 2022 until April 2023 to relocate the venue to a space further from residential areas, but that move was rejected. “As Council had supported this location since June 2020, we felt completely misled,” Hughes wrote. “Despite this, we accepted the decision and got to work finding an alternative location.”
Hughes claims that within a week, he and his team identified and proposed an alternative site 400 metres west of their current Docklands location. “We presented acoustic modelling that showed that from this location, the noise levels at the nearest apartment would be half as loud, and for the vast majority it would be much less than that. This site is completely unused, and no has logistical barriers.
“We did not receive any support from Council in relation to this site.”
According to Hughes, ATET were informed of the EPA report into their alleged breach of noise limits on 26 May. That’s when Melbourne Mayor Sally Capp said the venue had to reduce its music volume to a "background" level until it complies with the licence agreement.
“Despite having no opportunity to respond to these alleged exceedances, Council saw fit to impose this crippling restriction on our ability to trade, well beyond the requirements to comply with the EPA Regulations and conditions of our Planning Permit. This was a clear denial of due process,” Hughes continued.
“Furthermore, these alleged exceedances were recorded in late March and early April. If the EPA had found exceedances due to testing methods not available to the acoustic experts engaged by ATET or Council, why were we not provided with this information at the time of the exceedance and given an opportunity to respond and reduce our noise levels accordingly? Why did the EPA sit on this information for 10 weeks rather than enable us to rectify the issue immediately?”
In response to the report, Hughes and co. offered long-term solutions, including reducing the decibel limiter, concluding music at 11 pm and “completely enclos[ing] the venue in acoustic glass,” which would “be expected to result in a 75% reduction in noise emissions”. The proposals were rejected, and ATET’s licence was terminated.
You can sign the petition to save ATET here.